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Surgical excision versus imiquimod 5% cream for nodular and superficial basal-cell carcinoma (SINS): a multicentre, non-inferiority, randomised controlled trial

Bath-Hextall, Fiona; Ozolins, Mara; Armstrong, Sarah J.; Colver, Graham B.; Perkins, William; Miller, Paul S.J.; Williams, Hywel C.


Fiona Bath-Hextall

Mara Ozolins

Sarah J. Armstrong

Graham B. Colver

William Perkins

Paul S.J. Miller

Hywel C. Williams


Basal-cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and its incidence is increasing worldwide. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of imiquimod cream versus surgical excision in patients with low-risk basal-cell carcinoma.

We did a multicentre, parallel-group, pragmatic, non-inferiority, randomised controlled trial at 12 centres in the UK, in which patients were recruited between June 19, 2003, and Feb 22, 2007, with 3 year follow-up from June 26, 2006, to May 26, 2010. Participants of any age were eligible if they had histologically confirmed primary nodular or superficial basal-cell carcinoma at low-risk sites. We excluded patients with morphoeic or recurrent basal-cell carcinoma and those with Gorlin syndrome. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1) via computer-generated blocked randomisation, stratified by centre and tumour type, to receive either imiquimod 5% cream once daily for 6 weeks (superficial) or 12 weeks (nodular), or surgical excision with a 4 mm margin. The randomisation sequence was concealed from study investigators. Because of the nature of the interventions, masking of participants was not possible and masking of outcome assessors was only partly possible. The trial statistician was masked to allocation until all analyses had been done. The primary outcome was the proportion of participants with clinical success, defined as absence of initial treatment failure or signs of recurrence at 3 years from start of treatment. We used a prespecified non-inferiority margin of a relative risk (RR) of 0·87. Analysis was by a modified intention-to-treat population and per protocol. This study is registered as an International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial (ISRCTN48755084), and with, number NCT00066872.

501 participants were randomly assigned to the imiquimod group (n=254) or the surgical excision group (n=247). At year 3, 401 (80%) patients were included in the modified intention-to-treat group. At 3 years, 178 (84%) of 213 participants in the imiquimod group were treated successfully compared with 185 (98%) of 188 participants in the surgery group (RR 0·84, 98% CI 0·78–0·91; p

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Journal Lancet Oncology
Print ISSN 1470-2045
Electronic ISSN 1470-2045
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 1
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


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