The new research suggests that sap from this common garden plant treats non-melanoma skin cancer. This form of skin cancer includes basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, which are less serious but more common forms of skin cancer.
This phase one study was carried out by researchers in Brisbane, Australia. The researchers enrolled 36 patients, some with more than one lesion, and applied the extract from the plant to the surface of the lesion once per day for three days. The study treated a total of 48 lesions across the participants.
The participants were examined by an oncologist one, six and 12 months after their treatment for evidence of positive response or any adverse reactions. In total, 63% of skin cancer lesions had a complete response to the treatment. The patients generally tolerated the treatment well, although some reported short-term pain and irritation of the skin.
This is early research that has not yet compared this new treatment with others. Further research will follow and will better demonstrate the exact place of this treatment in the existing armory against skin cancer. However desirable new treatments are, prevention remains the best approach as sun exposure is the main cause of skin cancers. Excessive sun exposure should be avoided, especially in people who are at an increased risk of sunburn.