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New Gel Treats Precancerous Skin Condition in Days: Study
Date:3/14/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- A newly approved gel appears effective in treating a condition called actinic keratosis, which is a common precursor to squamous cell skin cancer, a new study finds.

Earlier topical treatments took weeks or even months to treat the condition, but the new product -- Picato (ingenol mebutate) gel -- can work in a matter of days, according to the report in the March 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"There are a number of agents available to treat precancerous skin lesions," said study author Dr. Mark Lebwohl, a professor and chairman of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

"Most of the other ones are applied over a period of weeks to months and have a reaction that lasts for a long time, so it interferes with your life for a good period of time. This one is unique in that it is applied for only one to three days," he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Picato for use on actinic keratoses in January. The new study was funded by LEO Pharma, the maker of Ingenol.

For the study, more than 900 people with actinic keratoses on their face or scalp, or elsewhere on their body (trunk, arms or legs) were randomly assigned to treatment with either Picato or an inactive placebo.

The researchers found that when used on the face or scalp, the gel cleared the condition nearly 43 percent of the time, compared with nearly 4 percent for the placebo.

When used on the trunk or extremities, the gel was again more effective than placebo -- about 34 percent for the gel versus nearly 5 percent for the placebo, the study authors noted.

Local skin reactions such as redness and crustiness developed within several days, but were gone quickly, and side effects were mild to moderate and went away without any problem, according to the report.

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