Every year, more than a million people are diagnosed with basal cell skin cancer, the most common form of the disease. Normally, it takes surgery to get rid of it. Now, dermatologists are testing a cream that you can rub on the cancer and hopefully rub away trouble spots. It's a new, experimental cream called Aldara -- FDA approved for genital warts, but dermatologists are finding it's also effective in treating basal cell skin cancers.
"Once or even twice a day for even as little as six weeks gives a cure rate comparable to or exceeding that of surgery," says Dr. Ted Daly, Nassau University Medical Center.
"When the cream is applied to the surface of the skin, it interacts with cells in the skin that lead to the production of the interferon which is a chemical of the immune system," says Dr. David Leffell, Yale School of Medicine.
Dr. Leffell says that helps create an inflammatory reaction that kills pre-cancerous and basal cancer cells. "You get some minor irritation. You get sometimes some ulceration or crusting on the area, but the final result of it is usually excellent," says Leffell.
Aldara is very expensive. 12 small packets cost $150. Since it's not FDA approved for skin cancer, there's no word yet on whether insurance companies will cover it.