How Chemotherapeutic Creams Can Help Treat Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. About 20% of Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, with almost 10,000 people diagnosed every day. 

While skin cancer is common, you can reduce your risks of developing it by protecting yourself from the sun. Staying out of the sun during its peak hours, wearing sunscreen whenever you go outside, and wearing protective clothing and sunglasses can help prevent skin cancer. 

At Los Gatos Dermatology, under the direction of Bruce Saal, MD, we pulled together some information to help you understand skin cancer and how chemotherapeutic creams may help.

Types of skin cancer

There are four main types of precancerous skin cancer and skin cancer. They include:

Actinic keratosis

Actinic keratosis consists of dry, scaly patches that indicate precancerous growths. It’s important to address these spots so that they don’t develop into full-blown skin cancer. They’re most common in people with fair skin over 40 years old.  

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma, also called BCC, is the most common type of skin cancer. Nearly 80% of skin cancers are BCC, and this form of skin cancer looks like a flesh-colored bump or pink patch of skin.

Squamous cell carcinoma

This type of cancer is the second most common type. Squamous cell carcinoma, also called SCC, looks like red bumps or a sore.


Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer but the deadliest form. In 2019, about 7,200 people died from melanoma. Melanomas look like dark moles. They are either moles that appear to grow or moles that suddenly appear. 

Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are commonly referred to as non-melanoma skin cancer.

Benefits of chemotherapeutic cream 

The best treatment for skin cancer depends on the type, location, size, and depth of the lesion. Some treatment options include:

For precancerous lesions and skin cancers that have not spread, chemotherapy creams can kill the cancer without the adverse side effects of systemic chemotherapy. They are most often used to treat actinic keratosis and non-melanoma cancers.

To use chemotherapy creams, also called chemotherapeutic creams, you simply apply them to your skin once or twice a day as directed by Dr. Saal. The benefits of chemotherapeutic cream over systemic chemotherapy, which is administered orally or intravenously, is convenience and minimal scarring. Chemotherapeutic creams may be irritating and make your skin sensitive to the sun.

Dr. Saal determines if you’re a good candidate for chemotherapeutic cream as a skin cancer treatment. For more information about skin cancer prevention and treatment, make an appointment with Dr. Bruce Saal at Los Gatos Dermatology in Los Gatos, California. 

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