Skin cancer is never welcome, but it’s especially scary when it shows up on the face. Patients are often troubled by the possibility of a disfiguring scar that results from surgery on such a visible, focal area of the body. However, researchers have found a way to potentially reduce the size of the surgical site in certain cancer-removal procedures.
Imiquimod, a prescription topical cream, can be used in conjunction with surgery to lessen the area doctors need to cut out, according to a Saint Louis University study published in the journal Dermatologic Surgery. Researchers reviewed cases in which patients who had the most common early-stage melanoma of the head and neck, lentigo maligna, underwent surgery to cut out the most invasive area of the cancer, followed by the application of imiquimod on the outer area. Without the cream, this outlying area would have otherwise been removed, which could have led to a larger scar.
“This subtype of melanoma is becoming more and more common, and can be one of the more challenging melanomas to manage,” lead researcher Scott Fosko, MD, explained. “While more study is needed to understand how the drug works and which patients are likely to benefit from it, we are optimistic that the drug may prove to be a good option for some patients.”
In addition to a smaller surgical area and smaller scar, this finding could also mean smaller costs.
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