About Skin Cancer Creams
A topical skin cream may be an option when patients have a very superficial skin cancer on their head or neck or when surgery may not be possible.
Doctors may use a prescription skin cream that is very effective for certain subtypes of skin cancer, particularly a skin cancer in situ, which involves the top layer of the skin (epidermis).
A prescription skin cream is an option for:
- Skin cancer growing on the face, head, or neck on an area that is not suited for surgery, or where the surgical margins are too indistinct to know whether the skin cancer is removed on pathology
- As an additional treatment after surgery has removed all or most of the skin cancer
Uses for topical skin cream for skin cancer
Your doctor may use a prescription drug that is put on the skin as a cream that can stimulate a local immune response against skin cancer cells. For very early skin cancers in sensitive areas on the face, some doctors may use this treatment if surgery might be disfiguring or cannot otherwise be performed. It can also be used after surgery, especially if the dermatopathologist can’t tell if the cells at the edge of the specimen represent skin cancer, or sun-damaged pigment cells.
Potential side effects of topical skin cream for skin cancer
People using a prescription drug cream for skin cancer may get skin reactions where the cream is used or around the area. An inflammatory response is expected when the cream is used to treat superficial skin cancer and often means the topical therapy is working. These reactions may include burning, crusting, dryness, flaking, itching, oozing, pain, redness, sores or ulcers, or swelling. Scarring or permanent pigment change from the cream is very unusual.
Because the cream tends to cause skin symptoms, your doctor will monitor your response and any side effects closely when you are on the medication.
Call your doctor right away if you have a skin reaction that bothers you or if the reaction makes it hard to keep using the cream. Call your doctor right away if you have a skin reaction that causes problems with daily living.
Current as of: 10/2019