Self-treatment Harmful for Skin Cancer

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Self-treatment Harmful for Skin Cancer
Self-treatment Harmful for Skin Cancer

(HealthDay News) — Home mole removal and skin cancer treatment is associated with poor cosmesis and negative outcomes, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, held from March 21 to 25 in Denver.

Brandon Adler and Adam Friedman, MD, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY, reviewed the literature to examine the safety and efficacy of methods used for home mole removal and skin cancer treatment.

Twenty-six published cases were analyzed, including potent and potentially dangerous escharotic agents containing bloodroot, zinc chloride, and Cheilidonium majus, and the nonescharotic Curaderm.

RELATED: Skin Cancer Resource Center

The researchers found that 88.5% of self-treatments resulted in poor cosmesis, with extensive tissue damage observed in 38.5% of reported cases. Following self-treatment, more than half of patients (56.3%) with biopsy-proven skin cancer presented with residual or recurrent disease at follow-up.

Of those with residual or recurrent basal cell carcinoma, 71.4% had an unconfirmed clinical resolution of some duration prior to presentation, indicative of an incomplete cure. The incidence rate of metastasis was 31.3%

The cure rate was 38.5 % among patients with basal cell carcinoma, which was considerably lower than that of standard practice (95%).

"Dermatologists and other physicians should be aware of patient access to these potentially harmful products via the Internet and their largely negative outcomes," the researchers wrote.


  1. Adler B, Friedman A. Abstract P8027. Presented at: American Academy of Dermatology 72nd Annual Meeting. March 21-25, 2014; Denver.

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