By Mark Cowen
A skin patch treatment for a common type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma effectively destroys facial tumors in most patients without the need for surgery or major radiation, researchers report.
Indeed, eight of out 10 patients with this type of cancer showed complete clearance of their tumors after treatment with the patch, which contains a radioactive isotope called phosphorus-32 (P-32) and does not harm healthy areas of skin.
“For patients, it is beneficial because it is a simple, inexpensive and convenient procedure that does not require them to be admitted to the hospital,” said lead researcher Dr Priyanka Gupta (All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India) in a press statement.
“This may become the standard procedure for treating basal cell carcinoma or serve as an alternative when surgery and radiotherapy are not possible.”
There are two main types of skin cancer: melanoma, which forms deep in the cells that produce pigment in skin, and nonmelanoma cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which develop in cells of the surface of the skin. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer.
Dr Gupta and team studied 10 outpatients, aged between 32 and 74 years, with facial basal cell carcinoma near the eyes, on the nose, or on the forehead. All patients were initially treated with the P-32 patch for 3 hours, which was then reapplied for another 3 hours after 4 and 7 days.
Tissue samples taken from the treated skin areas after 3 months showed no signs of cancer in eight patients. These patients also showed no signs of the disease after 3 years.
“It can be concluded that radioactive skin bandages incorporating P-32 can be effectively used for treatment of superficial skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma,” said Dr Gupta.
The researchers now plan to conduct further trials to see whether the P-32 patch can be effectively used in general clinical practice for the treatment of patients with basal cell carcinoma.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine in Miami, Florida, USA.
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