Chemo drug can shrink keloid scars

5-FU, a drug usually used to treat cancer, may be an effective therapy for raised, prominent scars called keloids, according to a small study conducted in Greece.

Keloids are produced by uncontrolled proliferation of fibrous tissue after injury to the skin. Treatment remains unsatisfactory, Dr. George Kontochristopoulos from Andreas Sygros Skin Hospital in Athens, and colleagues note in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

They also note that 5-FU suppresses cell division and stops cell growth.

To see if it might rein in scar overgrowth, the investigators injected 5-FU directly into keloids in 20 patients once weekly for an average of seven treatments.

Only one patients did not respond favorably while 17 showed a greater than 50 percent improvement. Small and previously untreated lesions improved the most, but 5-FU proved effective against keloids measuring larger than 6 centimeters.

However, nine of the patients who responded to treatment had a recurrence within 1 year.

All 20 patients found the injections painful, and the 5-FU injections had to be combined with lidocaine to make them tolerable for four patients. All patients developed transient hyperpigmentation at the injection site and six developed superficial ulcers, which were easily healed.

The researchers call for further studies, but conclude that 5-FU injections “may have a place in the treatment of keloids.”

SOURCE: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, March 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 4, 2011
Last revised: by David A. Scott, M.D.