Despite all the exhortations to stay out of the sun, a million Americans will develop skin cancer this year. The only good news for die-hard sun worshippers is that treatments are improving. The FDA just gave 3M Pharmaceuticals the go-ahead to market Aldara as a therapy for a common type of basal-cell carcinoma (BCC)--the first new topical approved for BCC in 25 years. In trials, cancerous lesions cleared up after three months for more than 80% of patients.
A new medication helps, but it's no reason to throw common sun-sense to the wind. Aldara does not treat superficial BCC tumors larger in diameter than .8 in.; in those cases, surgery or other treatment will still be required.