What is the role of interferon in the management of basal cell carcinoma (BCC)?

Updated: Mar 02, 2020
  • Author: Robert S Bader, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

Interferon alfa-2b is a protein product manufactured using recombinant DNA technology. It has shown some success in treating small (< 1 cm), nodular, and superficial BCCs. In appropriate BCC tumors, cures rates of up to 80% have been obtained.

Several early studies have shown variable responses of BCC to intralesional interferon alfa. In a small study by Greenway et al, 1.5 million IU interferon alfa-2b injected intralesionally 3 times per week for 3 weeks resulted in the clearing of 3 cases of primary nonrecurrent BCC and 5 cases of primary superficial BCC. [79]

Because larger studies are needed, most practitioners consider this an experimental therapeutic modality. Further data are needed before this treatment modality is recommended for routine ophthalmic practice.

Interferon has not become a mainstay in BCC treatment because of its cost, the inconvenience of multiple visits, the discomfort of administration, and its adverse effects, which include flulike symptoms. Acetaminophen has been administered to alleviate the flulike symptoms associated with this therapy.


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