Aldara is a skin applied cream that has been in use in Australia for over a decade. It can be very effective in treating certain forms of non-aggressive skin cancers, including superficial basal cell cancers as well as Bowen’s disease. It can also be used to treat solar keratosis or sun spots. Aldara is also known as Imiquimod, and works by activating your body’s own immune system via a molecule called a toll-like receptor 7. This inturn stimulates your immune system to cause skin cancer to be inflamed.
Important Facts on Aldara treatment
Aldara or Imiquimod can be used to treat some superficial and less aggressive forms of skin cancer, including superficial basal cell cancers, and SCC in situ. It can also be a good method of treating sun damage, and solar keratosis or sun spots.
REad more about basal cell cancers
Wash your hands before and after applying Aldara.
Cut the top off the packet or pierce the sachet with a needle and squeeze out a small amount of cream onto your fingertip. Apply this to the affected areas as directed by your skin cancer doctor.
Although the information on the packet states that the sachet is for single use, you could seal it using a bulldog clip and place it in the fridge. Aldara now comes in a pump pack for convenience.
Imiquimod may be used at any time of year, as it is not photosensitizing, unlike Efudix
Aldara treatment is one of the most variable treatments we use. This is because it stimulates your own immune system to fight cancer. Some patients have a very good immune system and reactions are short, and brisk. Other patients have a mild reaction to Aldara, and may need a longer application regime.
As a guide-
Your skin cancer specialist will advise you accordingly.
Specialists and leading skin cancer doctors can give you treatment options for removing sunspots, apart from Aldara. Treatments such as Fraxel Laser or Photodynamic Therapy can be an excellent method of sunspot removal, without the inconvenience of weeks to months of Aldara use.
A suitable treatment will depend on downtime, convenience, and costing for each patient. This table will give you a guide line as to what leading skin cancer doctors use-
|Fraxel 1927||5-7 days||From $990||Cost; may need two procedures if severe sun damage||One off treatment, very quick recovery time – less than 7 d.||Helps with skin rejuvenation|
|Efudix||21-28 days||$160+ including follow up||Downtime, follow up visit mid treatment||Cost effective, works very well||*Best option if downtime is not an issue and tolerable skin type|
|PDT –photodynamic therapy||7-8 days||$2500- $3500Face and scalp||Cost||Short downtime, very effective, one off application||Good treatment for smaller areas of sun-damage. Eg: upper lip|
|Picato Gel||5-7 days||$150 for 5 cm by 5 cm||Cost; variable levels of inflammation.||Shorter downtime||Variable inflammation; needs physician monitoring.|
|Aldara||4-8 weeks||$300-$700 including follow ups||Long treatment regime||–||Limited use|
Aldara is a good treatment for sunspots, however the protracted daily use for weeks or months may not suit busy patients. There are other treatments that are very effective for the treatment of sunspots and skin cancers with a much shorter ‘downtime’ compared to Aldara.
Shorter treatments for sunspots include –
Fraxel 1927 laser
Read more about Fraxel laser for sunspots
PDT or photodynamic therapy
Read more about photodynamic therapy
Aldara cost will depend on several factors including the area you are treating, the number of treatment cycles, and the types of skin cancers or sun damage.
As a guide, treatment for superficial BCCs are subsidised, however treating sun spots and solar keratosis are not.
Aldara for solar keratosis costs between $130-$300 – depending on the area used.
Aldara is subsidized under DVA, however PDT or photodynamic therapy is a better option.
Read more about photodynamic therapy