Topical Prescription Medications for Skin Cancer

In topical treatments for skin cancer, a prescribed cancer-fighting medication is applied to the skin in the form of an ointment, lotion or cream. Traditional chemotherapy medications administered orally or intravenously infrequently are used in the management of skin cancers.

What you should know about topical medications

Topical skin cancer treatments use medications to directly target cancer cells or to promote an immune response intended to eliminate cancer cells. These topical treatments are performed by the patient at home with the doctor monitoring the process during office visits. Topical treatment length can range from two to 12 weeks for pre-cancerous skin lesions to six to 12 weeks for uncomplicated skin cancers.

Why choose topical medications

Topical medications can be effective for the treatment of pre-malignant skin conditions such as actinic keratoses. These medications also may be used in some cases to treat small and shallow basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Topical medications occasionally can offer non-invasive alternatives to surgery, although these treatment options often have less success than surgical treatment methods.

Possible risks

As with any treatment, there are risks associated with laser treatments, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. Risks include:

  •     Pain
  •     Swelling
  •     Bleeding
  •     Scarring
  •     Crusting
  •     Discoloration