Intralesional interferon therapy for basal cell carcinoma

J Am Acad Dermatol. 1990 Oct;23(4 Pt 1):694-700. doi: 10.1016/0190-9622(90)70276-n.


In a clinical trial of 172 patients at four medical centers, interferon alfa-2b (1.5 x 10(6) IU) or a placebo was injected directly into biopsy-proved noduloulcerative or superficial basal cell carcinomas three times weekly for 3 weeks, for a cumulative dose of 13.5 million IU. Efficacy of treatment was determined at 16 to 20 weeks by examination of biopsy specimens that demonstrated cure of lesions in 86% of interferon-treated patients and in only 29% of placebo-treated patients. During the treatment course and follow-up, an initial inflammatory response was observed at the treatment sites, followed by diminished erythema, improvement in overall appearance, and a decrease in size of lesions. Side effects of treatment, mainly flu-like symptoms, were usually mild and transient and occurred more commonly in the interferon-treated group. Only three patients, all in the interferon-treated group, discontinued therapy because of side effects. One year after initiation of therapy, 81% of interferon recipients and 20% of those given the placebo remained tumor free. Noduloulcerative and superficial lesions were equally responsive to treatment with interferon. For some patients with noduloulcerative or superficial basal cell carcinomas, intralesional interferon alfa-2b may be an alternative, effective treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Erythema / chemically induced
  • Erythema / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intralesional
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / administration & dosage*
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins