New Drug Approved for Advanced Basal Cell Carcinoma

Health Writer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug for the treatment of locally advanced basal cell carcinoma, which is that the cancer has spread to nearby tissue but has not spread to any other part of the body. This drug is intended for those people with locally advanced cancer who have not responded to surgery and radiation therapy or the cancer has returned after this type of treatment.

What is basal cell carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a type of cancer that grows on the deepest layer of the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of your skin. It looks like an open sore, red patch, pink growth or shiny bump. It is caused by overexposure to the sun. BCC is the most common type of skin cancer. In 2010, 2.8 million cases of BCC were diagnosed.

While BCC rarely spreads outside the original tumor site, it is still dangerous and should be treated as soon as possible. Without treatment, it can cause disfigurement. Moh’s surgery is a first-line treatment for BCC. Radiation and excisional surgery can also be used.

FDA approves daily pill

Odomzo (generic name sonidegib) is a pill that is taken once a day. In clinical trials, it shrunk or eliminated tumors (BCCs) in almost 60 percent of participants. It has been approved for use in those who should not undergo surgery or radiation and those who have undergone these treatments but the cancer has returned.

Scientists believe that something called the Hedgehog molecular pathway is involved in the development of BCC. Researchers have found that this pathway is active in BCCs. Odomzo, and a previously approved drug Erivedge (vismodegib), suppress this pathway to halt the tumor from growing.

In more than half of the people taking Odomzo during clinical trials, the medication didn’t just halt the tumor, it reversed the growth--in some cases the tumor completely disappeared.

During the trial, participants took either 200 mg or 800 mg daily. While both worked, the higher dose did have a higher number of side effects, which included hair loss, muscle spasm, nausea, fatigue, body pain, diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting and itching. Because of these side effects, the lower dose is preferable.

It is important to note that this medication can cause serious birth defects. It should not be taken if you are thinking of becoming pregnant or pregnant. The warning for the medication also suggests that males taking this medication use condoms to avoid having any exposure through semen. It is suggested that this continue for eight months after the last dose.

For more information on basal cell carcinoma:

Basal Cell Carcinoma is not and will never be Melanoma

Ten Things you Need to Know about Basal Cell Carcinoma

Indoor Tanning Linked to Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinomas