Long-Term Imiquimod Treatment Helps Clear High-Grade Anal Lesions

Published: August 25, 2010

Long-term treatment with a topical immune-stimulating cream called Aldara (imiquimod), approved for the treatment of external genital warts, may also improve or clear high-grade lesions inside the anuses of men living with HIV and may potentially reduce the risk of cancer. This is the conclusion of a study published online August 19 in the journal AIDS.

While the prevalence of nearly all AIDS-related cancers has been considerably reduced since in the introduction of potent combination antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in 1995, some non-AIDS-related cancers are now on the rise. Many are caused by viral infections—liver cancer from hepatitis C virus (HCV), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and anal cancer from human papillomavirus (HPV).

Experts believe that HPV progression to anal cancer begins with precancerous growths, notably high-grade intraepithelial lesions (HSIL). However, HSIL can remit spontaneously, albeit infrequently, and it can sometimes take many years for HSIL to progress. As a result, it is difficult to predict whether, or how quickly, HSIL might progress to anal cancer.

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