Topical therapy means the drug is a cream or ointment put right onto the cancer. This is a way to treat vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN), but it's not used to treat invasive vulvar cancer. Topical chemotherapy for VIN does not work as well as laser treatment or surgery.
One choice is to apply the chemotherapy drug, fluorouracil (5-FU), directly to the skin of the vulva. This is called topical chemotherapy. Chemotherapy applied directly to the skin as an ointment will cause local irritation and peeling. This is normal and is part of the local destruction of cancer cells. Other medicated ointments suggested by your health care team can help relieve the discomfort of this treatment.
A second drug that can be used topically is called imiquimod. This drug comes as a cream to be applied to the area of VIN. Imiquimod is not a chemotherapy drug. Instead, it works by boosting the body's immune response to the area of abnormal tissue. This treatment has improved VIN, and in some women, it has made VIN go away completely. It can cause irritation and pain in the treated area.
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Last Revised: January 16, 2018
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