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Skin Cancer Drugs

There are three primary types of skin cancer:

  • basal cell
  • squamous cell
  • melanoma

Basal and squamous cell cancer are generally treated with surgery and, in some cases, radiation or chemo. There are some medications that are used to treat skin cancer, but it depends largely on the type and extent of the cancer. Here are a few examples of drugs for skin cancers:


Yervoy is a new drug recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for late-stage melanoma. Yervoy appears to work by allowing the body’s immune system to recognize, target, and attack cells in melanoma tumors, according to the FDA. The drug is given intravenously.


Interferon is a protein produced by the body that helps the immune system fight diseases, including melanoma. The drug may also help halt the growth and spread of cancerous cells. Interferon is given intravenously.


Imiquimod (Aldara) is a prescription cream used to treat more superficial forms of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma on the neck, arms, hands, torso, legs, and feet, as well as actinic keratosis on the face and scalp. It is not known how Imiquimod works in treating these types of skin cancer.


Fluorourcil (5-FU) is a prescription topical medication that blocks the growth of abnormal cancerous cells.

Content licensed from:

Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed : Jennifer Monti, MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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