Non-surgical treatments for skin cancers
A subset of low grade skin cancers can be treated with “creams” . These creams work by activating the patient’s immune system to kill the cancer cells (ALDARAR) or by directly killing the cancer cells (EFUDIXR). Both treatments will create an inflammatory response in the treated area. Normal skin does not react, although there is often a spread of inflammation of 1-3 cm outside the treated area. The inflammation consists of redness, scaling, crusting and occasionally oozing of clear fluid. A little discomfort can be felt but the treated area should not be painful. Length of treatment can be up to 6 weeks for skin cancers and 3-4 weeks for pre-cancers.
The advantages of this treatment are avoidance of further surgery, stitches and a scar particularly in a large diameter but thin l (superficial) lesion and treatment can be performed at home. Cure rates are high but not as high as surgery.
Involves application of a cream onto the skin cancer site which selectively penetrates into skin cancer cells vs. normal skin cells. The cream is left intact covered with an opaque dressing for 3 hours. The patient then returns to the office. A red light or laser light is shone on the affected area of skin for approximately 20 minutes. There can be a burning pain associated with this part of the treatment. An inflammatory reaction (redness, crusting, light clear oozing) occurs within the treated area which resolves over 5-7 days. This process is repeated in 2 weeks for skin cancers but is a single session for pre-cancers.
Advantages of this treatment is a shorter downtime and the entire treatment is performed in the office setting.
Your dermatologist will discuss the best options available for your particular form of skin cancer.
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