BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 00:28 GMT
Cream for skin cancer
Hands
Exposed parts of the body are vulnerable to skin cancer
A simple cream could eventually replace the surgeon's scalpel as an effective mass treatment for the most common type of skin cancer.

A clinical trial funded by Cancer Research UK will investigate the effectiveness of imiquimod cream on basal cell carcinoma (BCC) - the most common form of non-melanoma skin cancer.


One of the main advantages of the cream is that it would provide a better cosmetic result than surgery as there will be no scarring

Dr Fiona Bath
It is hoped the five year trial will prove that home treatment of skin cancer could become a reality.

The cream was originally used as a treatment for genital warts.

It works by boosting the defence mechanisms that the body uses to fight a tumour.

At present, surgery is the best method of removing BCCs and is likely to remain the most reliable treatment for more advanced cases.

However, researchers hope that the cream may become an effective way of dealing with straightforward cases of the disease.

Research Dr Fiona Bath said: "We hope imiquimod will offer patients a simple alternative to surgery.

"One of the main advantages of the cream is that it would provide a better cosmetic result than surgery as there will be no scarring."

Common cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK.

There are around 60,000 non-melanoma skin cancer cases reported every year - although the true figure could be closer to 100,000.

The discrepancy in number of cases is due to many cancer registries in the UK not registering BCCs or doctors not reporting them.

Lead researcher Professor Hywel Williams said: "Home application means the patient saves repeated trips to a cancer centre, it avoids a surgical procedure and the frustration of sitting on a waiting list.

"An added benefit is that it could save the NHS money and free up dermatologists to tackle more difficult BCCs."

Effective in trials

In the US and Australia incidence of BCC has doubled approximately every 14 years.

Small scale imiquimod trials in these two countries have shown between 73% and a 100% clear up rate for the cream when applied at least once daily.

The three-centre trial will be coordinated from the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology, Queen's Medical Centre, University of Nottingham.

Basal cell skin cancer develops from cells in the deepest layer of the epidermis. It develops mostly in areas exposed to the sun.

If BCC is left untreated, it can develop into a rodent ulcer. This is a deep ulcer in the skin that can spread - eating away body tissues that surround it. However advanced rodent ulcers are rare in the UK.

See also:

26 Aug 02 | Health
06 Aug 02 | Health
10 Jun 02 | Health
06 Feb 02 | Health
17 Mar 00 | C-D
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes