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Chemotherapy for skin cancer (nonmelanoma) may recommended in certain cases. For instance, chemo can be used to address residual cancer cells if a basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma cannot be completely removed with surgery or other traditional forms of treatment, such as cryotherapy, dermabrasion or electrodessication and curettage.

Common types of chemotherapy for skin cancer include:

  • Topical chemotherapy — Topical chemotherapy medications, such as 5-flurouracil (5-FU) in cream form, can be applied directly to the skin’s surface to address precancerous skin conditions that have not penetrated the deep skin layers or spread to other organs. Because this type of chemo is localized, exposure to healthy tissue and potential side effects can be minimized.
  • Systemic chemotherapy – This treatment is generally reserved for basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas that have spread through the lymphatic system to reach distant tissues and organs. Some drugs that may be recommended for this purpose include cisplatin, doxorubicin, mitomycin and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). These medications can potentially slow the spread of cancer and provide symptom relief.

In the Cutaneous Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, every patient’s case is reviewed by our multispecialty team of skin cancer experts. Through this collaborative approach, a highly individualized treatment plan is developed based on the patient’s specific needs and preferences. Moffitt offers the very latest treatment options for all forms of skin cancer, and our researchers are continually evaluating promising new therapies that can potentially advance the standard of care for all patients.

Chemotherapy for skin cancer is available at all Moffitt locations. If you’d like to learn more, we provide consultations with or without referrals. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.