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Drug & Herbal Treatments for Skin Cancer

by Penny Eims
  • Overview

    The skin is your body's largest organ, and skin cancer is the most common type of cancer encountered. Although skin cancer can affect any portion of your body, it is most typically found in areas that have repeatedly been exposed to the sun.
  • Types

    Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are the most commonly encountered skin cancers, with melanoma being the rarest and most deadly. Actinic keratosis is a skin condition that can develop into squamous cell carcinoma and Paget's disease (PD) is an extremely rare form of skin cancer that can show up around the tissues of the nipple, groin or anal region.
  • Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy refers to drugs used to destroy cancerous cells. When cancerous cells are located on the outer layers of the skin only, topical chemotherapy can be utilized in the form of an ointment or cream, while more widespread cancer can be treated systemically with the drugs.
  • Immune Response Modifiers

    Immune response drugs work by stimulating your body's own immune response to cancerous cells. Interferon, a type of immune response modifier, can be injected directly into a cancerous tumor, causing your body's immune system to react and work toward killing the cancerous cells.
  • Herbs

    According to a University of Maryland Medical Center article, there are a variety of herbs which may be beneficial for preventing and fighting cancer. The following herbs, due to their antioxidant properties, may be of benefit to those suffering from skin cancer: green tea, bilberry, ginger, milk thistle, ginkgo, turmeric, lemon balm and hawthorn.
  • Considerations

    Before undertaking a natural approach to skin cancer treatment, it is important to consult with your physician, as certain herbs may cause your body to react differently to the medications traditionally used in cancer treatment.
  • Prognosis

    It is imperative that you see your physician for regular skin cancer screenings, as this disease becomes more apparent as you age. Most patients who are diagnosed with skin cancer have an excellent prognosis, especially if the cancer was caught, and removed, promptly. Those suffering from advanced melanoma are at the greatest risk for complications and/or death; however, a drug being developed by Roche and Plexxikon, PLX4032, holds great promise for the treatment of this often fatal disease.

    References & Resources