Common side effects from using skin cancer creams include redness of skin, scabbing and crusting, says Cancer Research UK. Rarer and more serious side effects include soreness, fever, achy joints and mouth sores.
Examples of skin cancer creams are imiquimod cream and fluorouracil cream, states Chemocare. Imiquimod cream is an immune system modifier that is used to treat actinic keratosis, a type of skin cancer. Imiquimod releases cytokines, which make cells produce more interferon and destroy the cancer cells. Cancer grows by dividing and replicating at an abnormal rate. This process of replication is called metabolism.
Fluorouracil cream, another cream used to treat actinic keratosis, attacks cancer cells by stopping their metabolic processes, explains Chemocare. This is why Fluorouracil cream is classified as an antimetabolite. Skin cancer creams can be used in combination with other treatments.
One of these treatments is cyrosurgery, notes the Skin Cancer Foundation. During cyrosurgery, liquid nitrogen is applied to the areas of cancer growth with a spray device. After cyrosurgery, the treated lesions shrink, and then eventually fall off. Cyrosurgery can be performed in a physicians office, with no anesthesia or cutting. Side effects of cyrosurgery include temporary redness and swelling. A more rare side effect of cyrosurgery is discoloration of the skin.