What is Efudix Cream?
Fluorouracil (Efudix Cream) is a very commonly used prescription cream for early precancerous lesions. When used appropriately it can reduce the development of skin cancers and the need for surgery.
Fluorouracil preferentially blocks DNA replication of abnormal, cancerous cells which in turn destroys them. It has little effect on normal cells.
The most common lesions treated with Efudix cream are:
- actinic (solar) kearatosis (AKs or SKs)
- intraepidermal carcinoma (IEC, squamous cell carcinoma in situ/SCCis)
- actinic field damage
What else can it treat?
Other conditions that can also be treated with fluorouracil cream include superficial BCCs (sBCC), viral warts, and genital warts.
It is important to note that it cannot be used on all cancerous lesions and is only effective for superficial lesions.
It can be used on individual lesions or as a field treatment to clear a larger area of skin from numerous lesions and microscopic pre-cancerous changes.
Is the cream effective?
Many people report very good outcomes after treatment and find that their skin is smoother, more youthful, and healthier in appearance. It is subsidised by the government and is available for the cost of a standard prescription charge.
Recent studies have shown that the cream can effectively be combined with calcipotriol (Daivonex) to reduce the duration of treatment which has historically been one of the biggest downsides of Efudix.
How does Efudix cream work?
Efudix cream preferentially kills rapidly dividing cells, which includes abnormal cancerous cells. It does this by interfering with the cellular replication process of these rapidly replicating cells.
What are the downsides of Efudix cream treatment?
We will be honest, the treatment can be unsightly. As it kills abnormal cells, Efudix cream treatment causes an inflammatory reaction that manifests as a red, scabby eruption sometimes with superficial ulceration. This is temporary, however, it can be uncomfortable for some. Depending on where and how the treatment is undertaken, the reaction can last anywhere from one to four weeks.
A small proportion of patients can be sensitive to Efudix and may experience abnormal, exaggerated skin reactions. If the cream is used on a very large area all at once, people may absorb some of the cream into the body, causing nausea. Your dermatologist will normally provide instructions to limit the area that is treated during a course of treatment.
When is the best time to use the cream?
Fluorouracil can react with sunlight and is best used during the cooler months, such as between Easter and Labour weekend.