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Treatment for ulcerating tumours

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This page tells you about treatment for ulcerating tumours. There is information about


Which treatments can help

Regular cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy may be the first step your doctor takes to treat an ulcerating tumour. It may respond very well to this, especially if you haven't had cancer treatment before. In some people, the wound can clear up altogether.

The treatment will kill off cancerous cells and help to shrink the ulcerating tumour. This should reduce the amount of pressure on nerves, which can decrease pain. These treatments may also lessen oozing and bleeding from these wounds. But they are not suitable for everyone. The side effects of these treatments can sometimes cause you some discomfort. Your doctor will discuss the pros and cons of treatment with you.



Radiotherapy is the most commonly used cancer treatment for ulcerating tumours. It is important to know that when you first begin radiotherapy, the ulceration may seem worse at first, as the cancer cells die off. You may have a mild skin reaction to the radiotherapy, which causes redness and dry flaky skin. Depending on the part of your body being treated, you may have some other side effects of radiotherapy. There is more information about radiotherapy for wounds in the radiotherapy for symptoms section.



The most common chemotherapy drug used to treat ulcerating tumours is fluorouracil. If your wound is a primary cancer then fluorouracil cream can be spread directly onto it. But if it is a secondary cancer, you are more likely to have injections or a drip (infusion) into a vein.


Hormone therapy

If your primary cancer responds to hormones, your doctor may decide to give you hormone treatment to shrink the ulcerating tumour and slow down its growth. You may have hormone treatment if you have oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer. With this type of treatment, signs of improvement may take 4 to 6 weeks to appear.



If the treatments above are not suitable for you, your doctor may refer you for electrochemotherapy. It is a new treatment for ulcerating cancers and is not widely available in the UK at the moment. 

It is a combination of

  • Chemotherapy injected into the tumour or bloodstream
  • Using an electric pulse to send the chemotherapy into a cancer cell – electroporation

Ulcerating cancers can cause discomfort due to bleeding. This can be difficult to cope with and affect quality of life. Electrochemotherapy treatment can help stop the bleeding and relieve the discomfort. There is information about electrochemotherapy in the cancer questions and answers section.

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Updated: 5 February 2015