There are two forms of chemotherapy that can be used as a treatment for basal and squamous cell skin cancers: Topical chemotherapy & systemic chemotherapy. Systemic chemotherapy uses the power of anti-cancer drugs through either injection or oral consumption. Systemic chemotherapy attacks cancer cells that have spread to other organs, including one’s lymph nodes. While this form can be used to treat both types of non-melanoma cancer, it is rarely used for basal cell carcinoma.
Topical chemotherapy is applied directly to the skin like a moisturizer would be. The chemo comes in a lotion-type consistency and is typically prescribed for several weeks, depending on the prescribed drug. The topical chemotherapy is only successful when cancer has not spread to the deeper organs within the body. For patients whose cancer has begun to spread to their organs, systemic chemotherapy would likely be the best option.
Examples of topical chemotherapy drugs would be: Efudex, Aldara, Picato, and Metvix.