Retinoids in prevention of skin cancer

Cancer Lett. 1997 Mar 19;114(1-2):203-5. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(97)04663-6.


Two chemoprevention randomized clinical trials were begun in 1984 to evaluate retinoids in the prevention of skin cancers. Moderate risk subjects with a history of at least 10 actinic keratoses and at most two prior skin cancers were enrolled in the SKICAP-AK trial and randomized to 25,000 IU retinol or placebo daily for 5 years. High risk subjects with a history of at least four prior skin cancers were enrolled in the SKICAP-S/B trial and randomized to receive 25,000 IU retinol, 5-10 mg isotretinoin or placebo daily for 3 years. Data from the SKICAP-AK trial indicate that retinol reduces incidence of first new squamous cell skin cancers but had no effect on the incidence of first new basal cell skin cancer. The effect of retinoids had no significant benefit on squamous or basal cell skin cancers in the high risk subjects on the SKICAP-S/B trial, although intervention duration was less than planned. Daily retinol was effective in preventing squamous cell cancers in moderate risk subjects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / blood
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / prevention & control
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / prevention & control
  • Diterpenes
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nevus / pathology
  • Retinoids / adverse effects
  • Retinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Retinyl Esters
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Vitamin A / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin A / blood


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Diterpenes
  • Retinoids
  • Retinyl Esters
  • Vitamin A
  • retinol palmitate