Simple laser treatments may help prevent certain skin cancers

Simple laser treatments may help prevent certain skin cancers

For sun worshippers and people who just weren’t vigilant about using sunscreen, two types of skin cancers are exceedingly common. Now, research shows that simple laser treatments may help prevent the development of basal cell and squamous [skway·muhs] cell carcinomas.

Collectively, the two are the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the United States. Massachusetts General Hospital researchers discovered an easy strategy to protect skin health. It involves using nonablative lasers to deliver heat while leaving the skin fully intact.

The researchers studied patients who had been successfully treated for either of the two types of facial skin cancer. During a five-year period after, 35% to 50% of those patients typically had a recurrence.

In the study, patients were divided into two approximately equal groups of people who had received nonablative laser treatment and those who had not. The rate of new basal and squamous cell cancers was found to be about 21% for those who received the nonablative laser treatments and about double that amount for the untreated patients. That, the researchers said, established that patients treated with the laser had about half the risk of recurring facial cancers.

After controlling for age, skin type, gender and other factors, the untreated patients were 2.7 times more likely to develop new facial cancers than those who got laser treatments. Among those who did develop new facial cancers, the time it took them to develop was significantly longer for the laser-treated patients.

In the future, we may see skin damage caused by the sun’s powerful rays undone by the bright light of a laser.


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