What is Topical chemotherapy?
Topical chemotherapy is a nonsurgical treatment that effectively destroys precancerous and cancerous cells in the top layer of the skin. You may be a candidate for topical chemotherapy if you are diagnosed with precancerous actinic keratosis (AK), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Topical chemotherapy avoids scars from surgery and limits the exposure of traditional chemotherapy so the treatment does not cause side effects in your whole body. It is not a recommended treatment for the more aggressive forms of skin cancer or if your cancer has spread beyond the upper skin layers.
In general, topical treatments, such as electrodesiccation with curettage and chemotherapy creams are less useful for SCC, and standard excision or Mohs micrographic surgery are better options in order to ensure complete removal and reduce the risk of complications. Learn more about topical cancer treatments at a skin analysis or skin cancer screening at any of our Advanced Dermatology locations in Katy, League City, Pearland, or Sugar Land, TX.
What Are the Benefits of Topical Chemotherapy?
Benefits of topical chemotherapy prescribed by Advanced Dermatology in Houston, TX include:
- Treatment is nonsurgical and convenient
- Topical treatment is performed by the patient at their own home
- Our office will provide you with detailed directions on how to use the topical creams
- Effective at destroying some cancerous and pre-cancerous cells
- Comes with only a fraction of the side effects associated with standard chemotherapies
- Reliable and safe
- Avoids scarring
Am I a candidate for topical chemotherapy?
Houston, TX patients who receive diagnoses of actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, or squamous cell carcinoma may be ideal candidates for topical chemotherapy. These forms of cancer, if caught early on and isolated, are mild and easily treat with topical chemotherapy. You and your provider will need to ensure that the cancer has not yet spread to your lymph nodes to ensure that this treatment is appropriate. If you are in relatively good health, have less sensitive skin, and are not pregnant or nursing, you may want to discuss topical chemotherapy as a solution with your provider at Advanced Dermatology.
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Topical Chemotherapy Treatment Technique
You will be able to apply your topical chemotherapy treatment on your own in the privacy of your home. The cream is typically applied once or twice a day for several weeks. You should expect the treatment area to appear raw, and you may feel some discomfort as the medicine destroys cancerous and precancerous cells on the skin. You will have to return periodically to our office for follow-up appointments. We will assess the progress of your treatment, look for any signs of concern or reactions, and adjust your treatment as needed. During these follow-up visits, we will also be better able to estimate the remaining length of your treatment.
What Can I Expect After Topical ChemoTherapy?
You will need to be certain you are caring for your skin both during and after your topical chemotherapy treatment. Certain moisturizers, such as those made with petroleum jelly, may be helpful to soothe your skin. Once your treatment is finished, we will give you suggestions on how to help your skin recover. You should be vigilant about using sun protection after your treatment to avoid a recurrence of skin cancer.
Topical Chemotherapy FAQ
Does insurance cover topical chemotherapy?
Since skin cancer is considered a medical condition, most insurance providers will cover all or part of the cost. During your consultation, we will go over the different types of topical chemotherapy treatments for skin cancer and their related costs. Our team can also help you review your health insurance policy to see what treatments are covered and estimate your treatment costs.
Does topical chemotherapy hurt?
While there may be some irritation and discomfort, topical chemotherapy isn’t generally considered painful. Patients can often experience redness, rawness, scabbing, itching, and irritation at the treatment site. You will be monitored with periodic follow-up appointments at our office to check your progress. If you have any concerns about pain or discomfort, please don't hesitate to talk to us during your appointment.
How long is a topical chemotherapy treatment regimen?
Treatment will vary for each patient according to what type of skin cancer is being treated and their body’s response to treatment. In general, most patients will apply their topical chemotherapy once or twice a day for several weeks. During your follow-up appointments, we will examine your treatment progress and be able to give you an estimate of your remaining treatment time.
Does topical chemotherapy cause hair loss?
No, it generally does not. Since topical chemotherapy is only applied to the skin, it is not absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that for the majority of cases, topical chemotherapy does not cause hair loss.
Recover with a Topical Remedy
If you have been diagnosed with having precancerous cells or skin cancer in the top layers of your skin, learn more about topical chemotherapy treatments at Advanced Dermatology. You may be able to treat your skin cancer with medicated creams that you'll use in the privacy of your home. Schedule a consultation with Advanced Dermatology in Katy, League City, Pearland, or Sugar Land, TX to see if topical chemotherapy is a good fit for you.