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Activity of isotretinoin against squamous cell cancers and preneoplastic lesions.

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

We investigated the effect of the synthetic vitamin A derivative isotretinoin (13-cis-retinoic acid) on advanced cancers in 103 patients and on preneoplastic lesions in five patients. Six of 14 patients with squamous cell epithelial cancers had objective regressions of skin or subcutaneous metastases. Three of five patients with preneoplastic lesions had objective responses. The major dose-limiting toxic effects were reversible dermatitis, emotional lability, and headaches. We conclude that the growth of some squamous cell epithelial malignancies can be inhibited by isotretinoin and suggest that other retinoids should be evaluated as antitumor agents.

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