If you are battling skin cancer and chemotherapy is a treatment option that your doctor has recommended to you, a topical chemotherapy cream may be the most effective and convenient therapy style for you. This form of chemotherapy is a cream that you apply at home, usually twice a day, and can be the most effective way to treat certain types of skin cancer. If your dermatologist has recommended topical chemotherapy treatment, here’s what you can expect from application, side effects and results.
Topical chemotherapy comes in the form of a skin cream, rather than chemotherapy that is administered intravenously or through a pill, and can be an effective localized treatment for some kinds of skin cancer, especially actinic keratosis and basal cells. Like all forms of chemotherapy, it uses cytotoxic cancer killing drugs that destroy cancer at a cellular level. Topical chemotherapy is spread on the skin and only affects the top layer of skin cells, so is only suitable for very thin skin cancers.
Your specialist nurse will instruct you on how to use your specific prescription, but most topical creams are applied twice a day to the affected area. Sometimes your dermatologist will provide waterproof dressing to cover the cream, if necessary. Treatment usually lasts a couple of weeks and is designed to attack any cancerous sores in the area. This process makes the treated skin sore, red and inflamed, depending on your personal reaction to the medication.
Unlike many other forms of chemo that cause dramatic side effects like nausea and hair loss, topical chemotherapy limits side effects only to the treated area. Most patients experiences various degrees of swelling, pain and inflammation at the site of treatment. Your dermatologist can prescribe steroid cream to reduce the swelling if necessary. Your skin should heal about two weeks after treatment stops.
Topical chemotherapy creams generally cause less scarring than surgical options, they don’t require a trip to the hospital for treatment, and they can stop precancerous cells in their tracks. If you are battling squamous cell carcinoma or actinic keratosis, a topical cancer treatment may be an important part of your therapy plan.