Efudex Redux

February 17, 2015

Given 1) Scandinavian heritage, 2) immense time spent on sunny beaches, on reflective tennis courts, in ozone-challenged high mountains, 3) a ridiculous number of peely burns in youth (>3? Are you kidding me?) and 4) two basal cell carcinomas already removed, with potentially numerous pre-cancers festering in the wings …. it’s safe to say I need to be vigilant and proactive on the skin cancer front.

That means Efudex.

Efudex is a topical chemo therapy that reacts to abnormal cells (cancer-ish) and then destroys their ability to reproduce. Says the literature:

Cancers form when cells within the body multiply abnormally and uncontrollably. These cells spread, destroying nearby tissues. Fluorouracil works by stopping cancerous and pre-cancerous cells from multiplying. It does this by being incorporated into the cells’ genetic material, DNA and RNA. Both DNA and RNA are needed for cells to grow, repair themselves and multiply. Fluorouracil causes problems with the production of DNA and RNA in the cancerous cells and this causes them to grow in an unbalanced way, resulting in the death of the cells.

So, you apply a thin layer of this stuff twice a day for several weeks, turn all gross and splotchy, hurt and itch, then voila, dead cancer cells.

I’m getting used to the idea that this stuff might be a regular part of a winter regimen (winter because you need to stay covered up while using it and you don’t really want to go out into public if you can avoid it).


This is my second season with it. Last season: face (ugh). This season: neck and chest. Maybe arms or legs next year… we’ll see.

If you haven’t seen much of me… that’s why.

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