Actinic keratoses are the precursors to squamous cell skin cancer. About 1 in 10 of these lesions will progress to squamous cell skin cancer. There are various treatment modalities that we use to prevent this from occurring. Two of the most common prescription medicines we use in the treatment of actinic keratoses are Imiquimod and 5-Fluorouracil. Imiquimod works by increasing the activity of various inflammatory mediators in the skin also known as cytokines that basically act by attacking that skin abnormality or the disorganization of the cells thus halting the progression to squamous cell carcinoma.
5-Fluorouracil is another cream that we use in the prevention of skin cancer. Both of these creams are used as field treatment for skin cancers meaning they can be placed on the entire face usually for about two to three weeks at a time. Common side effects with these creams include redness, irritation and even blistering at times. These side effects can be calmed down with the use of a low potency topical steroid.