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  • Laser Ablation Could Benefit Precancerous Skin Lesions
Nov 2011
CHICAGO, Nov. 23, 2011 — Carbon dioxide laser ablation could be used to treat a common precancerous skin lesion, lentigo maligna (LM), when surgery or radiation therapy is not feasible.

“Carbon dioxide laser ablation may be advantageous because it treats large lesions in cosmetically sensitive regions of the head and neck in a short period, with minimal morbidity,” concluded researchers at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.

A paper detailing their findings was published in the November/December issue of the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, a JAMA journal.

LM typically is seen in older people with a history of chronic sun damage, and it is commonly located in the head and neck region. The lesion may progress to LM melanoma (LMM), which has the same prognosis as other forms of melanoma.

Dr. Haemi Lee and colleagues conducted a retrospective case series review of all patients with primary LM diagnosed and treated in London, Ontario, between July 2, 1991 and June 29, 2010.

The researchers assessed outcomes in managing primary LM through surgical excision, radiation therapy and carbon dioxide laser ablation.

The carbon dioxide laser exerts its effect on tissue by vaporizing water-containing cells.

Among 73 patients ages 39 to 93 years who chose treatment, 27 were treated with surgical excision, 31 were treated with radiation therapy, and 15 were treated with carbon dioxide laser ablation. The patients were followed an average of 16.6 months for surgical excision, 46.3 months for radiation therapy and 77.8 months for carbon dioxide laser ablation.

“A trend toward lower recurrence rates with surgical excision and carbon dioxide laser ablation was identified, but the results were not statistically significant,” the authors said.

“The recurrence rates were 4.2 percent for surgical excision, 29 percent for radiation therapy and 6.7 percent for carbon dioxide laser ablation.

“Although surgical excision is established as the gold standard of LM and LMM treatment, complete excision is not always feasible in large lesions of the head and neck,” the authors wrote.

“The decision to perform complete excision in the setting of LM, a noninvasive disease, must weigh the benefits of excision against the morbidity of the procedure.”

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laser ablation
The removal of material from a surface by high intensity pulsed or CW laser radiation emission.
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