St. Louis Public Radio News
6:43 pm
Tue April 28, 2009

Researchers use topical cream, surgery to treat skin cancer

St. Louis, MO –

St. Louis University researchers say using the topical cream imiquimod along with surgery to treat a common head and neck melanoma may stop the cancer from coming back. Doctors say it's usually hard to know if they've removed all of the lentigo maligna (LM) skin cancer because it has uneven borders.

Dr. Scott Fosko is the study's lead researcher. He says doctors treated the areas around patients' melanomas with imiquimod after surgery.

"We saw some very striking results in improvement after the treatment and then we did additional biopsy tissue studies of the area after treatment and did not see any evidence of the melanoma remaining."

Fosko says the cream stimulates the body's immune system to fight any cancer a surgery misses. That means doctors may not have to remove as much tissue during surgery.

"There's the benefit cosmetically. Then there's just the actual healing and there's less risk of infection and less risk of bleeding complications and it's overall a safer treatment course."

Fosko says researchers found no signs of cancer in the patients they treated.