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How effective is topical chemotherapy for skin cancer?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology

A prescription cream, 5-fluorouracil, destroys mutant cells and causes an inflammatory reaction. It is applied to a precancerous area for approximately four to eight weeks. Theoretically this is considered chemotherapy because it utilizes chemicals, but the term scares people. (The primary side effect of this topical chemo is fatigue.) As with photodynamic therapy (PDT), chemotherapy for SCC is approximately 85 percent effective. It is best for actinic keratoses (AKs) but can be used for thin, in situ squamous cell carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC).

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.