Drug Therapy of Skin Cancers

In addition to surgical treatment methods, the use of local or systemic medications (as tablets, subcutaneous injections, or by infusion) can be helpful. A lot of progress has recently been made in the treatment of melanomas.

Patients with advanced-stage melanomas as well as patients with progressive basal cell carcinomas now have new treatment options available which appear to be promising according to the latest studies.

Basal cell and squamous-cell carcinomas:

  • Photodynamic therapy with photosensitizing agents
  • Topical use of immunomodulatory or chemotherapeutic agents
  • Specific therapy with so-called hedgehog-pathway-inhibitors like Vismodegib (Erivedge®) for locally advanced or metastatic basal cell carcinomas

Cutaneous melanomas:

  • Adjuvant and semi-adjuvant therapy with interferon-alpha
  • If a BRAF V600 mutation is present: specific therapy with a BRAF inhibitor such as Vemurafenib (Zelboraf®) or Dabrafenib (Tafinlar®) in combination with a MEK inhibitor (Trametinib = Mekinist®)
  • Intravenous treatment with CTLA-4 antibodies such as ipilimumab (Yervoy®).
  • Intravenous treatment with PD-1-antibody Pembrolizumab = Keytruda® and Nivolumab = Opdivo®
  • Chemotherapy in tablet form with temozolomide (Temodal®).