Topical chemotherapy is an effective treatment used to treat precancerous areas and skin cancer effecting only the first layer of the skin. The practitioners at Dermatology & Skin Cancer Surgery Center use these topical creams to destroy cancer cells and prevent them from duplicating. Patients may apply the treatment at home, rather than at the dermatologist’s office, so they have the added benefit of undergoing treatment in complete privacy and comfort. The length of this treatment varies among patients and depends on the type and severity of their condition.

Topical Chemotherapy is a nonsurgical form of treatment that effectively seeks to destroy cancerous cells in the top layer of the skin. Commonly used topical creams for this treatment are Imiquimod (IMQ) and 5-fluorouracil (5FU). IMQ works with your immune system to destroy cancerous cells, while 5FU prevents cells from growing. Topical Chemotherapy may also be used to treat precancerous cells and tumors to potentially prevent cancer. Treatments typically last over a long length of time depending on the patient’s needs; however, topical chemotherapy remains a proven solution for treating the early stages of cancer and precancerous cells.

What to expect

Topical chemotherapy is a self-administered treatment used to treat mild skin cancer. Typically, the cream used as treatment is applied once or twice a day for weeks at a time. This treatment will cause irritation and redness to the skin as well as some soreness. Throughout your treatment, you will have to return to your dermatologist to have the treatment site examined. The length of your treatment will be based on the dermatologist’s analysis of how the medication is working on your skin. Expect the treatment area to feel and appear raw and uncomfortable throughout the duration of using the topical medication as it destroys cancerous and precancerous cells on the skin.

Treatment aftercare

Patients will need to ensure they are caring for their skin throughout and after their treatment. In some instances, patients will need to wrap the treatment site in bandages. Certain moisturizers, such as those based with petroleum jelly, may be used to help soothe the skin. The overall healing process after treatment is lengthy and may take up to two weeks. Your provider will work with you to discuss aftercare solutions and how to maintain a smooth healing process.