HEALTH

New cancer drug giving skin cancer patients hope

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Despite its possibly devastating effects, 64-year-old John Wickham loves the sun.

(Photo: ABC7)

“Even though I tried to take care of my skin there were times I didn't,” he said.

For several years, Wickham has been suffering from skin cancer.

“A lot of the pre-cancer stuff had started on my face, my arms, my torso and legs,” he said.

The Federal Drug Administration recently approved a new treatment that can better help skin cancer patients, like John, detect pre-cancer cells.

“This is a treatment to help get rid of all of the pre-cancers, even the ones that we can't see,” said Dermatologist. Dr. Maral Skelsey.

The treatment is called Levulan, and it’s essentially a clear medication applied to the skin.

Once the medication is applied to the body, it remains there for several minutes to soak in. Then it's activated by a light source, releasing oxygen that experts say attacks and kills the bad cells.

“It allows us to treat more effectively and have few side effects,” said Dr. Skelsey.

“It’s a shorter period of time that patients experience the redness and inflammation, he added.

Wickham, whose is preparing to undergo his second Levulan treatment, says he’s happy with the results so far.

“It was different and it's certainly more convenient and quicker than having the ointments spread over a couple of week period,” he said.

After treatment patients are given a strong sun screen, they’re advised to stay out of the sun for at least two days.

Dr. Skelsey says Levulan is best for people with fair skin, who either, easily burn or burn, then tan.

Only a medical professional can recommend a patient for treatment, but for more information about Levulan, visit www.dusapharma.com or www.mohs-md.com.

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