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Prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun and/or tanning beds can cause skin precancer or skin cancer to form. While this may be a distressing thing to be diagnosed with, there are several treatment options that can help to eliminate these skin lesions. 5-fluorouracil therapy is a treatment option that is used to effectively treat actinic keratoses, squamous cell carcinoma in-situ, and superficial basal cell carcinoma.

What is 5-Fluorouracil Therapy?

5-Fluorouracil topical therapy is used to treat actinic keratoses and superficial basal cell carcinoma. Actinic keratosis is a type of precancerous skin lesion that forms from chronic UV light exposure and may transform into squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and begins in the basal cells of the epidermis. This treatment option involves the use of topical cream or solution that works to destroy fast-growing cells in precancerous and cancerous lesions.

Who is a Good Candidate for 5-Fluorouracil Therapy?

Individuals who have been diagnosed with actinic keratosis or basal cell skin cancer can benefit from a 5-fluorouracil field or localized topical therapy. Be sure to tell your dermatologist if you are allergic to this medication or any of its ingredients, if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, are breastfeeding, or have ever had dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) enzyme deficiency. A consultation at our office is necessary to determine if this treatment is right for you.

What to Expect During 5-Fluorouracil l Therapy?

Fluorouracil is available in a cream and solution that is applied to the affected area once or twice a day. Do not apply this therapy to the eyelids, eyes, or inside the nose or mouth.

If you are using fluorouracil to treat actinic or solar keratoses, you should continue using it until the lesions start to scab, weep, or form open sores. This usually takes about 2-4 weeks. However, the lesions may not be completely healed until 1-2 months after you stop using fluorouracil.

If you are using fluorouracil to treat basal cell carcinoma, you should continue using it until the lesions are gone. This usually takes at least 3-6 weeks, but may take as long as 10- 12 weeks.

During the first weeks of treatment, the skin lesions and the surrounding skin will feel irritated and be swollen, red, and scaly. This is normal and is a sign that the medication is working. Do not stop using fluorouracil unless your dermatologist has instructed you to do so.

Following 5-Fluorouracil Therapy

After properly using 5-fluorouracil therapy, patients should notice that their lesions should be gone and healed within a couple of months. Be sure to follow your dermatologist’s specific instructions on how to properly use this treatment, as well as instructions regarding post-treatment.

It is important that you avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight and UV light while using this medication. Be sure to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen when outdoors, as fluorouracil may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Patients should make certain dogs avoid any contact with 5-fluorouracil.

Schedule a Consultation

If you would like to learn more about 5-fluorouracil therapy and how it can treat your actinic keratosis or basal cell carcinoma, contact HMGS Dermatology today! We will be happy to schedule your consultation with one of our dermatology specialists.

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