Cancer Home > What Is Vismodegib Used For?

Adults who have certain types of basal cell carcinoma may receive treatment with vismodegib. This drug is approved to treat cancer that has returned following surgery, or cancer that has metastasized to other areas of the body. Vismodegib is also used when surgery or radiation is not an option. It works by binding to certain proteins, interfering with the growth and survival of cancer cells.

An Overview of Uses for Vismodegib

Vismodegib (Erivedge™) is a prescription medication approved to treat basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. It is specifically used when:
 
  • The cancer has come back after surgery
  • Surgery or radiation is not an option
  • The cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized).
 

Vismodegib Use for Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma occurs when cancer cells form in the top layer of skin called the epidermis. It is the most common form of skin cancer. Other types include squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are considered nonmelanoma skin cancer, which differentiates them from melanoma. Although melanoma is less common, it is the most serious type of skin cancer because it is the most likely to spread throughout the body.
 
Basal cell carcinoma is generally a slow-growing cancer and rarely spreads to other areas of the body. However, if left untreated, it can grow into surrounding tissue, where it can cause damage.
 
Basal cell carcinoma can occur anywhere, but is usually found on areas of the skin that are routinely exposed to natural or artificial sunlight. Such areas typically include the:
 
  • Head
  • Face
  • Neck
  • Hands
  • Arms.
 
Certain people may have a higher risk for developing basal cell carcinoma. This includes people who:
 
  • Have been exposed to a lot of natural or artificial light
  • Have scars or burns on the skin
  • Have chronic skin inflammation
  • Take immunosuppressant medications
  • Have light-colored skin.
 
Treatment for most basal cell carcinoma involves some type of surgery. In general, the cancer is removed completely during a biopsy and no further treatment is required. Radiation therapy may be used for areas that are difficult to treat with surgery.
 
Vismodegib is an option when radiation and surgery cannot be used to treat the cancer, or when the cancer returns after surgery. It is the first medication approved to treat metastatic basal cell carcinoma. It is also the first drug in the class of medicines known as hedgehog pathway inhibitors.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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