Acitretin for chemoprevention of non-melanoma skin cancers in renal transplant recipients

Australas J Dermatol. 2002 Nov;43(4):269-73. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-0960.2002.00613.x.


A prospective, open randomized crossover trial was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of acitretin for chemoprevention of squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas in renal allograft recipients. Analysis was performed according to the intention-to treat principle. Twenty-three patients with previous history of non-melanoma skin cancer enrolled into the study and were randomly allocated into two groups. They crossed over at the end of 1 year. Eleven (47.8%) patients completed the 2-year trial. Twelve (52.2%) patients withdrew from the trial. Nine of these withdrew because of side-effects of acitretin. The majority of the patients who continued with the acitretin could tolerate 25 mg of acitretin daily or on alternate days. The number of squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) observed in patients while on acitretin was significantly lower than that in the drug-free period (P = 0.002). A similar trend was observed in patients with basal cell carcinomas, but this was not significant and the numbers were small. Side-effects were a major limiting factor. A severe rebound increase in SCC occurred in one patient after the acitretin was ceased.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acitretin / adverse effects
  • Acitretin / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / prevention & control
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / prevention & control
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*


  • Acitretin