Immunotherapy of Skin Cancer
Aldara (imiquimod) is the first of a class of drugs called immune modulators. This drug induces the formation of interferon in the skin. Interferon has antiviral, anti-tumor, and anti-proliferative activities. The drug has been used for years to treat viral warts and has been accepted in the treatment of actinic keratoses (precursors to skin cancers). There is also a great deal of interest and practical experience in using it to treat small and superficial skin cancers, or skin cancers in patients where surgery is not a good option. Early results of this experience are very promising.
Instructions for use are as follows:
- Aldara comes in “single use packets.” These packets are designated single use because of European regulations regarding preservatives. Actually, a packet may be torn open, a small amount of cream squeezed out, and the package re-closed. Thus, one packet can be used for four to five applications.
- A small amount of cream should be applied to the area of interest every other day or on alternate days.
- Irritation may occur during the course of treatment. In that case, simply discontinue application of Aldara and apply Vaseline or Bacitracin to the area for several days. Once irritation is cleared, restart Aldara every other day.
- Treatment is usually carried out for 1 to 4 months. You should be seen monthly during the Aldara treatment.
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