Microinvasive melanoma: Cutaneous pharmacotherapeutic approaches Review uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Melanoma
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Skin Neoplasms


  • Surgical excision is the treatment of choice for primary melanomas and radiation therapy is the accepted alternative for the subset of lesions not amenable to surgery. With the recent rise in melanoma incidence, especially in the elderly, there are a growing number of cases that are neither amenable to surgery nor radiation therapy. In this article, we review pharmacotherapeutic approaches to microinvasive melanoma (invasive radial growth phase melanoma) that might be considered in such circumstances. There are no approved drugs for the treatment of primary melanoma and randomized controlled trials with 5 or more years of follow-up have not been performed. The limited studies and numerous case series in the literature on pharmacologic treatment of primary melanoma have focused on topical therapies. Accordingly, we provide a review of the potential pharmacotherapeutic agents in the treatment of microinvasive melanoma by extrapolating from the available limited literature on the use of fluorouracil, azelaic acid, retinoic acid derivatives, interferon (IFN)-α, imiquimod, and other agents for melanoma in situ, invasive melanoma, and epidermotropic melanoma metastases. Our review indicates that topical fluorouracil and tretinoin are not effective as single agents. The efficacy of azelaic acid, tazarotene, cidofovir, and intralesional IFN-α, interleukin-2, and IFN-β is undefined. Imiquimod is the most studied and promising agent; however, optimal dosage, therapeutic regimen, and survival rates are unknown. In the face of a growing demand for non-surgical treatments, formal clinical trials are needed to ascertain the role of pharmacotherapeutic agents in the treatment of microinvasive melanoma.

publication date

  • April 2013



  • Review



  • eng

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s40257-013-0012-1

PubMed ID

  • 23479385

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 125

end page

  • 37


  • 14


  • 2