- 5-fluorouracil is a topical chemotherapy cream that is used on the skin. It is taken up preferentially by "precancerous" and cancerous cells in the skin. It causes these areas of the skin to turn bright red as if suffering a severe sunburn. It causes the "precancerous" and cancerous cells to scale or scab up and fall off, leaving new good skin behind. This treatment lasts ~ 4 weeks. This is a good treatment for numerous actinic keratoses.
- Immunomodulators such as imiquimod (Aldara) are topical creams. They cause an increase in the level of signals from the immune system in the skin (not in the body as a whole) to fight off the presence of "precancerous" or cancerous cells. It causes these areas of the skin to appear red and somewhat crusted during the treatment of ~4 weeks. This is used for the treatment of numerous actinic keratoses as well as superficial skin cancers.
- Retin A is a topical cream used potentially for treatment of sun-damaged skin. It is not as good as 5-fluorouracil or imiquimod for treatment of actinic keratoses, but it does have a role in treatment in some cases.
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