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Topical Cream for Skin Cancer

When surgery is less preferred

FRIDAY, July 16, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the topical cream Aldara (imiquimod), already approved to treat genital warts, to treat a mild form of skin cancer called superficial basal cell carcinoma (sBCC).

The approval recommends the cream when the more preferred treatment method, surgical removal, is medically inappropriate, the agency said in a statement.

In clinical studies, 75 percent of sBCC patients had no evidence of the cancer after 12 weeks of treatment with the cream, the FDA said. A separate study found 79 percent of patients sBCC free two years after treatment with the drug, which is manufactured by 3M Pharmaceuticals.

Side effects noted during the trials included skin reactions at the treatment site, including redness, swelling, peeling, itching, and burning.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, affecting at least 800,000 Americans annually, the FDA said.

To learn more about this type of cancer, visit the National Library of Medicine.

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