Treatment of a large superficial basal cell carcinoma with 5% imiquimod: a case report and review of the literature

Dermatol Surg. 2002 Apr;28(4):344-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1524-4725.2002.01140.x.


Background: Large superficial basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) may be difficult to treat surgically due to the potentially large resulting defect after removal. Imiquimod, an immune response modifier, when applied topically, has been demonstrated to be successful in treating superficial BCCs. There is no published experience on the treatment of larger superficial BCCs (greater than 2 cms2) with imiquimod at this time.

Objective: To assess the clinical and histologic regression, as well as the short- and long-term effects of topical imiquimod on large superficial BCC.

Method: A 52-year-old white female with a 30 cm2 biopsy proven superficial BCC of 28 years duration on the right dorsal arm was treated with 5% imiquimod three times a week for 12 weeks. Clinical follow-up was conducted 1, 4, 6, and 10 months after treatment, as well as histologic assessment of recurrence at 4 months after treatment.

Results: Apparent clinical and histologic clearance was achieved. The treatment was well-tolerated and the patient completed the treatment schedule without a rest period, despite erosion of the lesion in the last week of treatment.

Conclusion: This report describes the first case of a large superficial BCC (30 cm2) successfully treated with topical imiquimod and with a 10 month follow-up.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage*
  • Administration, Topical
  • Aminoquinolines / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Arm
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imiquimod
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Aminoquinolines
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Imiquimod