Non-ablative fractional laser (NAFL) treatments may help prevent the development of non-melanoma skin cancer, according to a study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital.
While NAFL therapies are known to treat sun-damaged skin, scars and age spots among other skin conditions, the researchers wanted to investigate its effectiveness on preventing skin damage. For the study – published in Dermatologic Surgery – Mathew Avram, MD, JD, director of the Mass General Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center along with his colleagues studied patients who had underwent successful treatment of facial keratinocyte carcinoma. According to the researchers, such patients have a 35 per cent risk of having a subsequent keratinocyte carcinoma within three years and a 50 per cent risk within five years.
For the research, 43 patients received NAFL and 52 others were included in the control group that did not served receive NAFL treatment. The researchers followed up with both the groups for more than six years and found that the rate of facial keratinocyte carcinoma development in the NAFL group was 20.9 per cent. However, the rate of facial keratinocyte carcinoma in the patients from the control group was 40.4 per cent, indicating that patients treated with NAFL had about half the risk.
“These findings suggest that NAFL treatment may have an important role in protecting against subsequent keratinocyte carcinomas,” Avram said. “While the mechanism of NAFL’s protective effect is not completely understood, it is suspected that NAFL treatment reduces the overall burden of photo damaged keratinocytes and may promote a wound healing response, which gives healthy skin cells a selective advantage.”
However, Avram said that further research is required to more critically assess the role of NAFL in skin cancer prevention, to understand the duration of its protective effects and to determine optimal treatment parameters.
“Based on this research, it’s encouraged for patients to have non-ablative laser treatments to help prevent skin cancer if they are at risk or notice abnormalities,” Avram concluded.