Topical cancer treatment
Topical creams, gels, and serums, oral medication, and laser therapy are available as part of the effective treatment for certain skin cancers and precancers. Especially when detected early, many types of skin cancer and precancer respond well to these treatments, which offer noninvasive solutions that won't impact daily life. Tracy Evans, MD is a dermatologist, skin cancer specialist, and Mohs surgeon in San Francisco, CA who offers these treatments to patients diagnosed with actinic keratosis and basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Evans at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco & Marin to find out if you are a candidate for a topical, oral, or laser skin cancer treatment.
"Dr. Evans has performed Mohs surgery on my face twice and I could not be happier with the results. For the past couple decades, I have spent almost every Summer in the South of France because I have family and friends there. Of course it is a sunny place with lots of gorgeous beaches and other outdoor activities. I guess I got a little too much sun exposure on these trips, especially since I have fair skin and blue eyes. When I first found out I had a basal cell spot on my face I was very upset, but Dr Evans and her staff are absolutely amazing!!! I had never had any surgery on my face and I was worried about it, but I truly felt I had the kind of empathy and care that you would get from a family member or a great friend, from Dr. Evans and everyone else on her team. Dr. Evans did such a great job on both surgeries and they have healed so well, so much so that no one even notices that I have had two surgeries on my face. I have been going to her office for years now with regular skin checks and I have to say I am extremely impressed with the entire staff. In addition to the Mohs surgery, and after I had basal cell a second time, I decided to get Fraxel Laser done at Dr. Evans office. A lot of people do this for cosmetic reasons, but I did it because I found out that Fraxel can help reduce the chance of getting basal cell in the future. As a guy, I did not see myself spending thousands of $’s on laser for my face the first time, but after I got the 2nd basal cell on my face I decided it was worth the money if it reduced the chance of more basal cell in the future. I was very pleased with the Fraxel procedures and I have not had another basal cell issue since I had it, so I am very happy with the decision. The Fraxel laser procedure also evened out the toning on my face, so that was great as well. I highly recommend the Fraxel Laser to anyone who wants to potentially reduce the chance of basal cell, and I also have been taking Nicotinamide (a special form of vitamin B) which can also potentially reduce future basal cell issues, and I use a DNA enzyme repair cream at night which reduces the chance of basal cell. As I said before, I have not had basal cell since I had the Fraxel and I think taking Nicotinamide and using the DNA enzyme repair cream all have helped. After all this I realize how important skin care is and I am grateful that I got such great care. Most of my friends never go to a dermatologist and have an ignorance is bliss attitude, but with Dr. Evans and her amazing team, I am much more aware of how important it is to get regular checks and what can be done to maintain my skin going forward. My skin looks great and people think I look much younger than my actual age. One final point: I also have a couple friends that have HMO insurance that also have had basal cell. They have had surgeries at their HMO and I can tell you the care and the results they received are not even close to the care and outstanding results I have had with Dr. Evans. In some cases, the HMO made my friends wait a long time before they could even get the Mohs surgery and they also made mistakes, and their results in terms of scarring and healing were not the best. There is no way I would trust an HMO to do this surgery. At this point, I would only trust Dr. Evans with something this important. Thanks to Dr. Evans, Clarence, Shantelle, Kirstie, Danielle, Leslie, and the entire team! You all have helped me in a difficult situation more than once and I got through it as if nothing ever happened because of your amazing care and skills!"- E.R. / Yelp / Sep 25, 2021
"I want to write this review for Dr Evans’ staff and specifically for Krystal and Ava. I have been treated there 4 times this year. Each time I go I feel like my health and happiness is the most important thing in the world to both medical and administrative staff. I am not just the next person in their busy day that needs treatment and a means for the practice to make money. I am made to feel the same way as when I fly first class or stay in a world class hotel. The entire experience from the time I walk in the door until I walk out again is unlike anything I have experienced at any doctor or dentist or any medical facility. They are professional and compassionate with a great "bedside" manner. I am cared for as a patient and valued as a human each visit."- S.G. / Yelp / Sep 01, 2021
"Dear Tracy Evans M.D. Thank you_Thank you_Thank you. For your amazing expertise and talents. I could not be happier with my care. Everyone on your staff is so competent and awesome. So grateful, Deb Protheroe"- D.P. / Google / Jul 11, 2021
"Excellent, thorough medical care for the skin. I appreciate the fact that Dr Evans monitors my skin every 6 months for medical issues and catches anything amiss early. Knowledgeable staff to help with skin care products after medical needs met. Beautiful relaxing spa like waiting area."- B.F. / Google / Jun 11, 2021
"I was in desperate need of a quick remedy to extract my pores and hydrate my face. Mallory recommended the hydrafacial treatment for me. The whole treatment was quick, only taking about 30 minutes, and very affordable with NO down time! Mallory was an absolute gem! Prior to the treatment, she explained the process and made sure I was comfortable. I would highly recommend Dr. Evans team at Pacific Skin Dermatology. Can’t wait for my next treatment!"- K.K. / Yelp / May 30, 2021
Some patients who have been diagnosed with actinic keratosis (AK), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) could be candidates for these treatments. Topical, oral, and laser treatments can be prescribed alone or in combinations, and they have been shown to be effective in the treatment of nonaggressive skin cancers in the upper layers of the epidermis. A full evaluation is necessary for Dr. Evans to be able to determine if a patient is a candidate for one or more of these treatments as it depends on several factors, including the size, type, and stage of the cancer.
During your consultation, it is important for you to be very honest about any medications you take, allergies you have, etc. Some of the treatments should not be used with other medications, and some may have ingredients that could cause allergic reactions in some patients. Topical and oral medications should not be used by pregnant or nursing women.
Topical creams and gels, as well as oral medications, are generally given to the patient to use at home. They will be used in different doses and on different schedules, depending on your diagnosis. The duration of the treatment will also vary, but it could be from two weeks up to 16 weeks. Dr. Evans will go over all of the use instructions with you very carefully and explain the importance of following these instructions.
While you are using the topical creams or gels, your treatment area(s) will probably be red and feel a bit inflamed. This is normal and is a result of the medication working to destroy the cancer cells. Dr. Evans will need you to come into Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco for regular follow-ups so she can monitor your progress and check for any unusual reactions.
If Dr. Evans recommends that you have laser therapy as your treatment or part of your treatment plan, your treated skin will be slightly uncomfortable, itchy, and swollen for a few days afterward. Dr. Evans usually performs 3 – 5 sessions for skin cancer laser therapy, which need to be scheduled about 6 weeks apart.
What to Expect
Dr. Evans or a member of her team will give you important instructions on how to care for your skin during and after the treatment. Certain moisturizers, like those that are made with petroleum jelly, may be helpful to calm inflamed skin. Once you have completed your treatment, Dr. Evans will give you suggestions on how to help your skin recover and reduce any scarring. To avoid a recurrence of skin cancer, it is vital that you always protect your skin from the sun. This includes avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight and any use of tanning beds, as well as always using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will insurance pay for topical or oral skin cancer treatment?
Skin cancer is a medical condition so most insurance companies will cover or partly cover skin cancer treatments, whether they are topical, oral, laser, or surgical. The overall cost associated with topical treatments differs from patient to patient, depending on the medication and duration of treatment. Dr. Evans can discuss estimates with you during your consultation.
What topical skin cancer treatments does Dr. Evans use?
Dr. Evans uses Aldara, Picato, and Efudex topical medications to help treat certain skin cancers or precancer. She also performs laser therapy for some patients. The oral medication Erivedge may be prescribed as part of a treatment as well. The use of any of these treatments depends on many aspects of your case so it is necessary for Dr. Evans to perform a thorough examination before she can determine what is best for you.
How do topical treatments reduce or remove skin cancer?
There is not a definitive answer to how these treatments are able to target skin cancer. Scientists think that some may be effective because they are able to change immune system responses. Others may work by blocking signal transmitters in the cells or by disrupting their metabolic processes.
How quickly do topical treatments work?
Each type of treatment will have varying durations for every patient, depending on several different factors of the diagnosis. Your treatment could last two weeks, 16 weeks, or possibly shorter or longer. Dr. Evans will talk with you about all of these details during your consultation if she determines you are a good candidate for topical or oral treatment.
How do I know if I am a candidate for topical treatment?
Topical and oral treatments are generally not effective for aggressive or deeply rooted skin cancers or for melanoma. Fortunately, Dr. Evans provides other treatments for these cases at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco & Marin and urges you to make an appointment if you would like to discuss your options.
A New Way to Treat Cancer
The early detection of skin cancer and precancer is key to a successful treatment. The earlier you are diagnosed, the more options you will have, and some of those options are simple and noninvasive, like topical and oral medication and laser therapy. Schedule your first appointment with Dr. Evans at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco & Marin. She is here for you, whether you need your first skin cancer screening, a second opinion, or are interested in her specialized treatments.