Imiquimod: a review of basal cell carcinoma treatments

J Drugs Dermatol. 2008 Nov;7(11):1044-51.


Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is regarded as the most prevalent malignant skin tumor in whites. A variety of surgical and nonsurgical interventions are available to treat BCC. In recent years, an immune response modifier drug, imiquimod, has been approved in treating superficial BCC (sBCC). The objective of the authors was to review the published literature to evaluate outcomes such as efficacy, safety, and quality of life associated with imiquimod treatment among patients with sBCC. A MEDLINE search of the literature was performed to identify studies published between January 1, 1995 and March 31, 2008 that evaluated imiquimod efficacy, safety, and quality of life in treating BCC. Overall, imiquimod 5% cream was associated with increased clinical and histologic clearance among patients with sBCC as compared to placebo. The findings from short-term cost effectiveness studies suggest that use of imiquimod 5% cream can be more cost-effective than surgical interventions such as excision surgery among patients with superficial BCC. Future studies evaluating long term cost effectiveness of imiquimod treatment are warranted.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminoquinolines / adverse effects
  • Aminoquinolines / economics
  • Aminoquinolines / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / economics
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Imiquimod
  • Mohs Surgery
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell / surgery
  • Quality of Life
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery


  • Aminoquinolines
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Imiquimod