Dermatologic surgery : official publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al.]

Basic pharmacology of topical imiquimod, 5-fluorouracil, and diclofenac for the dermatologic surgeon.

PMID 22092926


Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) contributes to the vast majority of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC). As the incidence of NMSC continues to rise, topical therapies will be used with increasing frequency. Topical therapies may benefit high-risk surgical candidates as an alternative treatment modality and may improve overall cosmesis. The most commonly employed topical therapies are imiquimod, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and diclofenac. To review the detailed mechanism of action and side-effect profiles of each topical therapy used to treat NMSC and to explore newly discovered actions. Uncommon adverse events are also presented. An extensive literature search was performed to describe the pharmacologic actions of imiquimod, 5-FU, and diclofenac. A keen understanding of the pharmacologic concepts of these topical therapies may aid the dermatologic surgeon in making sound choices before, during, and after surgery.