Doctors warn against using home remedies to try and treat skin cancer

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Friday, May 29, 2015
Warning about home remedies for skin cancer
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Michelle Charlesworth has a warning about using home remedies to treat skin cancer.

NEW YORK (WPVI) -- The Internet is full of all kinds of home remedies, so called natural cure-alls for skin cancer.

They aren't helping, and can actually cost patients a lot of time and cause problems for doctors.

"I've had patients who treated their skin cancers with rubbing alcohol, with bleach products, and it certainly causes a lot of damage to the skin, but it in no way treats the skin cancer specifically," said dermatologic surgeon Dr. Snehal Amin.

Dr. Amin is alarmed by pointless home remedies, from oils, herbs and acids, that take time away from legitimate diagnosis and treatment.

"I had a 35-year old gentleman who had a skin cancer on his shoulder and it grew quite substantially while he was at home treating it with a home remedy with various over the counter remedies, and by the time he came to me, surgery was his only treatment and it was quite a large surgery."

The cancer in one picture is so bad we cannot even show it to you.

The thing that so many people forget is that skin is our largest organ. If you get skin cancer and it is not diagnosed and you go after it with other kinds of creams that are not addressing the skin cancer, it can spread to other organs and be fatal.

"This melanoma can actually be spread to the rest of the body," said Dr. Amin. "At that point there is no cream that is going to help the patient. In fact surgery can't even help the patient at that point. So certain skin cancers need to be treated immediately."

Paige Blake's skin cancer scar is completely invisible, unless you know where to look.

She too was afraid of surgery, and asked whether there was a potent cream that could be used instead. "I know that there are a lot of advancements and I had thought maybe there was something, maybe it was a topical cream," Paige said.

But she also knew to go to a doctor. "It really matters what you do first, it matters how you get it diagnosed, it matters how you treat it," said Dr. Amin.

The sooner, the better.