Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999 Jan;40(1):43-7.

Destructive procedures are the standard of care for treatment of actinic keratoses.

Author information

  • 1Westwood-Squibb Center for Dermatology Research, Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157-1071, USA.



Actinic keratoses are premalignant lesions resulting from exposure to carcinogens. Recently, some Medicare carriers have limited reimbursement for destruction of actinic keratoses to those lesions unresponsive to topical 5-fluorouracil treatment.


Our purpose was to determine whether this policy meets the community standard of care for treatment of actinic keratoses.


Data from the 1993 and 1994 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey were used to determine the frequencies at which different treatments are used for actinic keratoses. These were compared with the frequencies at which procedures and medical therapies are used to treat control conditions (warts, psoriasis, acne, and dermatitis) to determine whether procedures are done because they are available or out of medical necessity.


Procedures were performed during 78% of visits for actinic keratoses. 5-Fluorouracil was used at 3.6% of visits, and at 39% of these visits a procedure was also performed. There were no observations of use of 5-fluorouracil alone at a first visit for actinic keratosis. Procedures were less likely to be performed at visits for warts, psoriasis, acne, or dermatitis, which indicates that reimbursable procedures are performed not simply because they are available.


Procedures are performed to destroy actinic keratoses out of medical need. Medicare policies mandating initial use of 5-fluorouracil as initial treatment of actinic keratoses do not represent the community standard of care for treatment of these lesions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk