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Skin Cancer

Postby patoco » Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:55 am

Creams Combat Basal Cell Skin Cancers

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Original Post by Tina 07/22/2005

Creams Combat Basal Cell Skin Cancers

Yahoo! Health: Cancer News

July 22, 2005 03:55:59 PM PST
By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- While it hardly ever kills, the type of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma is far from innocuous. It causes lesions, often on the face, that are frequently difficult to remove without disfigurement.

But now, two creams may give dermatologists a new weapon against cosmetic damage.

The creams seem to help minor lesions disappear on their own and may also help patients after surgery, said Dr. Roger Ceilley, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Iowa. The treatments are "becoming more well-used and well-known," said Ceilley, who was to discuss the ointments Friday at the American Academy of Dermatology summer scientific sessions in Chicago.

The most serious types of skin cancer -- melanomas and squamous cell carcinoma -- are potentially dangerous and can be fatal. Basal cell carcinoma is less dangerous and much more common, affecting an estimated 1 million Americans a year, Ceilley said. It mainly affects people with fair skin and a history of sun exposure, he said.

The lesions, sometimes found on the face, often appear to be slow-healing sores. While they're cancerous, in general "they're not lethal," Ceilley said. "They don't spread to other parts of the body."

However, they can become bigger and create problems if they're in a sensitive part of the body, such as next to the eye, lips or nose.

Dermatologists typically burn, freeze or scrape off the lesions, but those treatments can lead to a scar that looks like a noticeable white spot, Ceilley said. "It can be unsightly on the chest of a woman, or on the legs. Sometimes those areas are slow to heal."

Enter the two creams. One, known as imiquimod, is commonly used to treat genital warts and recently received federal approval for basal cell carcinoma treatment.

According to Ceilley, a small study by a researcher at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine found that patients who used the cream after lesion-removal surgery were two-thirds less likely to show signs that some of the tumor remained. The patients also looked better cosmetically.

How does the drug work? "It enhances your immune system to detect cells that shouldn't be there," Ceilley said.

Research suggests that another kind of cream, which includes the chemotherapy drug known as fluorouracil, or 5FU, also appears to help basal cell carcinoma patients if used in conjunction with surgery.

Dr. Martin Weinstock, a professor of dermatology at Brown University, said the creams are promising treatments, but he added that research suggests they're less effective when used by themselves.

Regardless of the effectiveness of the creams, there is good news for people with basal cell carcinoma. "The cure rate is very high, so you can get rid of it by one method or another," Weinstock said.


Additional Resources on Skin Cancer:


Skin Cancer

Medline Plus


Skin Cancer Facts

American Cancer Society ... tearea=PED


General Information About Skin Cancer ... n/patient/


The Skin Cancer Foundation


Skin Cancer Information Centre

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