Cuban skin cancer drug available nationwide

By ACN on August 5, 2017

Heberferon, the only Cuban drug of its kind in the world for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma of the skin, is already available throughout the national territory, barely six months after beginning of the program for its extension.

During that period, more than 400 patients in the country have benefited from the drug produced by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), which combines the action of two interferons to inhibit tumor growth and eliminate or reduce lesions, including those that are complex, multiple and in advanced stages.

These results were presented at the First National Workshop of Coordinators of the National Extension Program for the Use of Heberferon, held for two days in the province of Camagüey, in conjunction with the IX Methodological Workshop on Skin Cancer.

Dr. Iraldo Bello, a CIGB researcher and leader of the Heberferon project, explained to ACN that although the evaulation period can be considered short, a favorable impact on the quality of life of patients with the most frequent tumors was evident with the use of the drug.

One of the most encouraging results is the possibility of reducing the need to mutilate sections of skin in places as complicated as the head, when the carcinoma is located near vital orifices such as eyes, nose, mouth and ears, or when has a wide extension, Bello noted.

Data provided by coordinators in all provinces for the extension of the drug show that about six percent of the population evaluated, with their use, could avoid mutilation, even though they had an indication or prognosis of that procedure due to the characteristics of the tumor.

A finding that will allow the extension of the research lines is the systemic effect that causes, that is, it works not only around the lesion but also at an organic level, with benefits for patients with multiple carcinomatosis and extended lesions.

Invited to the event, Dr. Priscila Torres, an official of the National Registry of Cancer Registry, assessed the importance of Heberferon as a new therapeutic alternative for tumors of higher incidence in Cuba, with more than 10,200 cases reported in the last census.

More than 60 percent of these cases correspond to basal cell carcinoma, so although the results of patients treated are encouraging, many more patients should be included, she said.
Towards that goal, the drug extension program is underway to ensure that it is present in all areas of primary health care in the country, with a specialized consultation for its implementation, said Yutdelis Roben, coordinator of the project by CIGB.

Although skin cancer is not among those with higher mortality, its incidence is increasing and its appearance has a high aesthetic and psychological cost to the patient, therefore prevention of their risk factors is fundamental.