Skin Cancer Treatment With Cream
Skin Cancer Treatment With Cream A common treatment for basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer around the world, is a topical (applied to the skin only) cream, such as Efudex (fluorouracil). If your doctor has prescribed Efudex, this introduction will Arara you with the information you need to use it in an effective and safe way.
Please note that this information may not cover all possible precautions, interactions, or adverse effects for this drug. If you have any questions about any medications you are taking, be sure to check with your healthcare professional.
Efudex (other brand names include Carac and Fluoroplex) is a topical cream used in the treatment of superficial basal cell carcinoma when conventional methods are not practical, as is the case with numerous lesions on the superficial scalp or in difficult treatment areas. It is also used in the treatment of Keratose actinic (also known as Solar keratosis), which can lead to more serious invasive squamous cell carcinomas if left untreated.
Efudex is a chemotherapy drug (an “Antimetabolite”) that prevents the formation of DNA and RNA required for cell division and growth. This inhibition results in the death of rapidly growing cancer cells that absorb more fluorouracil compared to healthy cells. In its most powerful injectable form, fluorouracil is also used to treat cancers of the breast, stomach, intestine, and esophagus.
The success rate of treatment of basal cell carcinoma with fluorouracil is approximately 93 percent, based on a study of 113 lesions in 54 patients. However, isolated, easily accessible basal cell carcinomas should be treated with surgery since success with such lesions is nearly 100 percent. Unlike surgery, Efudex is not likely to leave scars or permanently discolored skin patches.
Other studies are now looking at how effective Efudex cream is in the non-facial regions of the body, and how fluorouracil compares with Imiquimod cream (Aldara) and cryosurgery. For example, in a German study of patients with Actinic keratosis, treatment with imiquimod resulted in better clearance of lesions and improved cosmetic results compared with cryosurgery and fluorouracil. Talk to your doctor about which treatment is best for you.
For basal cell carcinoma, it is recommended to apply 5% fluorouracil cream twice a day in an amount to cover lesions for at least 3 to 6 weeks. However, treatment may be required for 10 to 12 weeks before the lesions disappear. To apply for this medicine, use a cotton-tipped applicator or wear gloves if applied with fingertips. If it is applied with unprotected fingertips, it is important to thoroughly wash your hands after applying for this medicine. Avoid applying to eyes, nose or mouth.
In general, treated areas may be unsightly during treatment, and usually for several weeks after cessation of treatment. The effect of fluorouracil occurs in four phases:
- Early inflammatory phase: mild inflammation occurs during the first week of application.
- Inflammatory phase: During the following weeks, redness and swelling occur with some scabs and burns.
- Tumor disintegration phase: The lesions are resolved as the skin exults.
- Healing phase: More than 1 to 2 weeks, the new skin grows in the treatment area.
Specific side effects that generally do not require medical attention (tell your doctor or healthcare professional if they continue or are annoying) include:
- Red or dark skin
- Erosion (loss of the upper skin layer)
- Eye irritation, such as burning, itching, tenderness, stinging, or irrigation
- Increased skin sensitivity to the sun and ultraviolet light
- Pain and burning in the affected area
- Dryness, flaking or swelling of the affected area
- Rash, itching of the affected area
The more serious side effects you should tell your doctor or healthcare professional as soon as possible:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody diarrhea
Measures and Interactions
Efudex cream should not be used as pregnant women may cause damage to the fetus or breastfeeding fetus. Dihydropyridine dehydrogenase (DPD) should not be used if you have a deficiency of the enzyme since serious side effects can be seen. DPD is a hereditary condition that occurs in 3 to 5 percent of the population and requires specific genetic testing for diagnosis. Also, if:
- Subject to radiation therapy
- You have had unusual or allergic reactions to fluorouracil, other chemotherapy, other drugs, foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Skin Cancer Treatment With Cream
Avoid sunlight as much as possible when using Efudex as it may increase its side effects. If exposed to sunlight, wear a hat and use sunscreen. As always, also avoid tanning booths that are clearly linked to squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.