Until recently, few effective treatment options were available for the treatment of advanced basal cell carcinoma (aBCC), with different chemotherapeutic agents finding only marginal success in some case reports. However, continued research has produced a number of targeted therapies that provide hope for patients with this rare but sometimes deadly form of nonmelanoma skin cancer.
“Before the emergence of molecular targeted therapies, patients with metastatic or advanced basal cell carcinoma were very challenging to treat with truly effective treatments few and far between. The dawn of the hedgehog inhibitors has changed the way we treat our advanced basal cell carcinoma patients,” says Desiree Ratner, M.D., clinical professor, Ronald O. Perelman department of dermatology, NYU Skin and Cancer Clinic, New York, who recently spoke at the ODAC Dermatology, Aesthetic & Surgical Conference in Orlando.
Following the FDA approval of the two hedgehog inhibitors vismodegib (Erivedge, Genentech) and sonidegib (Odomzo, Sun Pharma) in 2012 and 2015, respectively, clinicians could finally offer a novel oral therapy to their patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma.
While vismodegib is approved for locally advanced and metastatic basal cell carcinoma, sonidegib is only approved for locally advanced basal cell carcinoma. Both agents are small molecular inhibitors of smoothened homolog (SMO), which block hedgehog signaling activation. After only having chemotherapy or high dose radiation therapy as medical treatment options, Dr. Ratner says that the oral hedgehog inhibitors are a welcome addition to the clinician’s armamentarium for advanced BCC.
“These targeted therapeutic drugs basically give us a viable treatment alternative for large basal cell tumors that are unresectable or not amenable to radiation therapy,” Dr. Ratner says.
Dr. Ratner reports no relevant disclosures.