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

Updated: Mar 23, 2021
  • Author: Robert S Bader, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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The receptor-selective acetylenic retinoid tazarotene (Tazorac) can also be used to treat small low-risk BCCs. Tazarotene is thought to cause BCC regression by increasing apoptosis and by decreasing cell proliferation in the skin cancer cells. In one case series, about 70.8% of the BCCs had clinical and dermoscopic regression of more than 50%, and 30.5% healed without recurrence after 3 years; most unresponsive tumors showed keratotic differentiation. The study involved the application of tazarotene 0.1% gel for 24 weeks in 154 small, superficial, and nodular BCCs (109 patients). Changes were followed up by dermoscopy and histologic examination. [87]

In addition to being an off-label indication, another drawback to topical tazarotene for the treatment of BCC is that it requires long-term therapy, for 5-8 months. The only reported adverse effect is dry/irritating skin that is relieved after discontinuation of tazarotene.

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