Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) stands as the prevalent form of skin cancer on a global scale. When surgery can be done, that’s the main treatment. But if surgery isn’t a viable option, a cream called 5% imiquimod for basal cell carcinoma can be a good solution, which is commonly sold under the brand name Aldara.
The Efficacy of Aldara Imiquimod for Basal Cell Carcinoma
Skin cancers come in two main types: nonmelanoma, like basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. BCC is a common skin cancer, especially in places near the equator. Sun exposure, especially in intense bursts, is a big risk, as are fair skin, burning instead of tanning, and exposure to certain kinds of radiation.
Unlike melanoma, BCC usually stays in one place and isn’t as deadly. The best treatment is Mohs micrographic surgery, but it’s not always an option because of limited resources. When surgery isn’t possible, doctors might recommend surgical removal with big safety margins, or other treatments like 5% imiquimod cream for basal cell carcinoma or photodynamic therapy.
How Does Aldara for Basal Cell Carcinoma Work?
Imiquimod cream harnesses your body’s immune system to target and eliminate skin cancer cells. It accomplishes this by prompting the release of particular substances called cytokines, which include interferon.
Imiquimod cream empowers your body’s immune system to generate natural substances that combat basal cell carcinoma, actinic keratosis, or the virus responsible for your warts/skin tags.
When Can You Use Imiquimod for Basal Cell Carcinoma?
Imiquimod cream is available in tubes or individual packets. Apply it at bedtime. Start by washing your hands and the affected area with gentle soap and water. After drying both your hands and the affected area, apply the cream.
Apply sufficient cream to cover the affected area, and extend it by about 1 cm, which is roughly half an inch. Gently rub the cream until it disappears. Leave it on for 8 hours, and avoid showering or bathing during this time.
For basal cell carcinoma, keep the cream on for 8 hours, and afterward, rinse it off.
If you’re using sachets, you may not use all the cream in one go. Please do not store any leftover cream; use a fresh sachet for each application.
Things to Do While Using Imiquimod Cream for Basal Cell Carcinoma
When using this medication, please remember to:
- Attend all scheduled appointments with your dermatologist. These follow-up visits are crucial for your dermatologist to assess the medication’s effectiveness. Never rely solely on your own judgment. Your dermatologist considers various factors, not just the appearance of your skin. If the medication doesn’t produce the desired results, your doctor might consider alternative treatments to avoid the worsening of your condition.
- Safeguard your skin from the sun. This minimizes the risk of developing new actinic keratoses and skin cancers. To achieve this, seek shade when outdoors, wear long-sleeved clothing, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Additionally, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF30+ that is water-resistant.
- Avoid engaging in sexual activity while the medication is applied to your skin. Even if you use a condom or other protective measures, there’s a chance that imiquimod could be transmitted to your partner.
Side Effects of the Aldara Imiquimod Cream
The frequency and intensity of side effects can differ from one individual to another, and they are also influenced by the specific treatment you’re undergoing.
Common Side Effect
Sometimes, your skin might get itchy with this treatment. This occurs in over 10 out of every 100 individuals, which is more than 10% of cases. If you experience this, make sure to tell your doctor or nurse.
Occasional side effects
These side effects manifest in 1 to 10 out of every 100 individuals, which is between 1% and 10%. You could experience one or more of these. They include:
- Small skin bumps filled with fluid, pus, or other stuff. This might signal an infection.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Back pain.
- Issues at the application site, like pain, redness, rash, burning, bleeding, tingling, small bumps.
Rare side effects
These side effects are rare, affecting less than 1 out of 100 people (fewer than 1%).. They include:
- Feeling moody and irritable.
- Feeling nauseous.
- Dry mouth.
- Flu-like symptoms.
- Swelling, fluid leakage, inflammation, scabs, small cysts, or skin breakdown at the application site.
- Feeling tired and lacking energy.
Essential Additional Information While Using the Cream
When you’re taking cancer drugs, it’s important to watch out for interactions with other medications and herbal products. Make sure you inform your doctor or pharmacist about all the medicines you’re using, even things like vitamins, herbal supplements, and non-prescription remedies.
Regarding contraception and pregnancy, it’s uncertain whether the treatment could harm a developing baby. To be safe, avoid getting pregnant or getting your partner pregnant while on treatment. If you or your partner becomes pregnant while receiving treatment, promptly notify your healthcare team. It’s important to discuss reliable contraception options with your doctor or nurse to ensure safety during your treatment. Find out how long you should use it before and after treatment.
Breastfeeding while using this drug may lead to uncertainty about whether it passes into breast milk. In general, doctors often recommend against breastfeeding during this treatment.
Additionally, always let any other healthcare providers know that you’re undergoing this treatment. This includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists, or dentists, especially if you need treatment for other health issues, including dental problems.
Curing Superficial BCC with Imiquimod Cream
If you or someone you know is dealing with basal cell carcinoma, it’s essential to understand the potential treatments available, such as the use of 5% imiquimod cream. This cream, known as Aldara, can be a valuable option when surgery is not viable. While the treatment can be effective, it’s crucial to follow your dermatologist’s guidance and attend all scheduled appointments. Your health and well-being matter, so take proactive steps and engage in open communication with your healthcare team. Together, we can make informed decisions to address basal cell carcinoma effectively and safeguard your overall health.