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What is the effect of fluorouracil cream on photoageing?

What is the effect of a standard course of topical fluorouracil cream on photoageing? Photoageing – premature skin ageing caused by long-term UV exposure – is of aesthetic concern to many patients. A study in JAMA Dermatology investigated the effect of topical fluorouracil (five per cent) cream in treating the condition.

The Veterans Affairs Keratinocyte Carcinoma Chemoprevention Trial was a randomised clinical trial of 932 United States veterans with a recent history of two or more keratinocyte carcinomas performed from September 2011 to June 30 2014, to assess the chemo-preventive effects of a standard course of topical fluorouracil.

The study population was predominantly male (97.5 per cent) and white (100 per cent) with an average age of 71.5 years. Participants were randomised to apply topical fluorouracil (five per cent) cream or a vehicle control cream to the face and ears twice daily for two to four weeks for a total of 28 to 56 doses. Photographs were taken at baseline and at numerous time points for up to four years.

In a secondary analysis, researchers graded these photographs using four validated photo-numeric scales. A total of 3,042 photographs from 281 participants (randomised to apply topical fluorouracil or placebo) were evaluated at baseline, six months, 12 months, and 18 months. No statistically significant changes were found in photodamage between baseline and any of the time points thereafter.

Researchers concluded that a standard course of topical fluorouracil did not result in detectable improvement of photodamage.

Read more recent research on photoageing.


Korgavkar K, Lee KC, Weinstock MA. Effect of Topical Fluorouracil Cream on Photodamage: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Dermatology. 2017;153(11):1142–1146. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.2578

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