Background: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer and incidence rates are increasing. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a frequently used treatment, especially for superficial BCC (sBCC). Two topical photosensitizing agents are currently used to treat sBCC, namely 5-aminolaevulinic acid (ALA) and its ester, methyl aminolaevulinate (MAL). Previous research showed a high efficacy for ALA-PDT using a twofold fractionated illumination scheme in which two light fractions of 20 J cm−2 and 80 J cm−2 were delivered 4 h and 6 h after ALA application. Objectives: To evaluate whether twofold ALA-PDT is superior to conventional MAL-PDT for sBCC. Methods: We performed a single-blind, randomized, multicentre trial in the Netherlands. Results: Overall, 162 patients were randomized either to conventional MAL-PDT or twofold ALA-PDT. After 12 months, a total of six treatment failures occurred following ALA-PDT and 13 treatment failures occurred following MAL-PDT. The 12-month cumulative probability of remaining free from treatment failure was 92·3% [95% confidence interval (CI) (83·7–96·5)] for ALA-PDT and 83·4% (95% CI 73·1–90·0) for MAL-PDT (P = 0·091). Conclusions: The twofold ALA-PDT scheme resulted in fewer recurrences, although the difference between both treatment groups was not statistically significant. However, ALA-PDT resulted in higher pain scores and more post-treatment side-effects compared with MAL-PDT.

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Journal British Journal of Dermatology
Kessels, J.P.H.M, Kreukels, H, Nelemans, P, Roozeboom, M.H, van Pelt, H. (H.), Mosterd, K, … Kelleners-Smeets, N.W.J. (2018). Treatment of superficial basal cell carcinoma by topical photodynamic therapy with fractionated 5-aminolaevulinic acid 20% vs. two-stage topical methyl aminolaevulinate: results of a randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Dermatology, 178(5), 1056–1063. doi:10.1111/bjd.15967