New pill can treat Basal Cell Carcinoma skin cancer

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer—with about 2.8 million cases of skin cancer per year in the United States. The treatment of basal cell carcinoma skin cancer has traditionally relied on surgery, chemotherapy creams and even radiation. Overall, these treatments are well-tolerated and effective. This is particularly true of Mohs micrographic surgery – a specialized outpatient surgical procedure performed under local anesthetic and designed to accurately and effectively treat skin cancer. Mohs surgery offers exceeding high cure rates of over 99%, while sparing healthy skin tissue and minimizing any scarring.

Still, some patients are not surgical candidates or possess tumors that are not easily eradicated with other treatment modalities. These patients may have had previous radiation treatment, or have tumors so large and aggressive that conventional treatments would not be recommended.

For these patients, a new skin cancer pill could be the answer! Vismodegib (also known as Erivedge) is a prescription oral medicine that is now FDA approved for treatment of basal cell carcinoma.

It is believed that misguided signals in skin cells give rise to basal cell carcinoma. These signals are likely that are due to cellular mutations and sun damage. Vismodegib works by interrupting these signals so they are no longer able to produce cancerous cells.

A pill to treat skin cancer has long been sought and the introduction of this new therapy could have vast implications in dermatology and the medical field. Currently however, this treatment is not for everyone. The Vismodegib pill is recommended for patients with basal cell carcinoma who are not candidates for skin cancer surgery, or patients who have a recurring spot appearing even after surgery or another treatment.

As more research is conducted, physicians might start recommending this treatment for other types of patients. For example, vismodegib may have a role for the treatment of other types of cancer. Vismodegib should not be taken by female patients while pregnant, if considering pregnancy, or while breast feeding.

If you would like more information, or if you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dermatologists, please contact Sanova Dermatology today.

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