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May 1984

Mutagenicity and Carcinogenicity of Methoxsalen Plus UV-A

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, Leuven, Belgium.

Arch Dermatol. 1984;120(5):662-669. doi:10.1001/archderm.1984.01650410104025

• The combination of methoxsalen and long-wave UV radiation (UV-A) is being used on a large scale in clinical practice to treat a variety of dermatoses, particularly psoriasis. Theoretically, this combination may be mutagenic and carcinogenic, since methoxsalen binds covalently with DNA under the influence of UV-A. Mutagenicity has been studied in microorganisms and cell cultures. Arguments for possible carcinogenicity come from animal experiments and also from long-term follow-up studies of patients treated with psoralens and UV-A (PUVA). Transplantation studies in animals, allergic and irritative skin reaction experiments, and clinical observations indicate that PUVA also has an immunosuppressive effect. Short-term risk of skin cancer from PUVA therapy seems to be rather low if careful patient selection is made. However, for all patients, long-term maintenance treatment should be avoided as much as possible.

(Arch Dermatol 1984;120:662-669)

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