What Is Black Salve (Cancema)?

People with cancer will often go to extreme lengths while searching for alternative treatment methods. Some of these treatments are not approved by government agencies and can do more harm than good. Black salve is the generic name of a controversial topical agent sold by some alternative medicine merchants as a removal of skin cancer. So what is black salve (Cancema)?

Escharotics are substances that destroy skin tissue. They leave behind dead tissue and form a black scar on the skin's surface called an eschar. An eschar is not the same as a scab. A scab consists of cells and body fluids, including dried blood. Eschars are made up of dead tissue.

Eschars typically form as a result of fungal infections, ulcers, necrotizing spider bites, and burn injuries. Sometimes an eschar sloughs off without intervention. In some cases, a physician must surgically remove an eschar to avoid infection. Escharotics were widely used to treat patients with skin lesions during the early 20th century. Modern medicine uses methods that are more effective and far safer.

Black salve is an escharotic that often contains zinc chloride and herbs of chaparral, bloodroot, galangal, graviola, and sometimes burdock.. The ammonium salt content of bloodroot, called sanguinarine, kills living tissue. 

Cancema is the brand name for a particular salve. Most western countries strictly regulate the sales of escharotics making unauthorized sales illegal. The manufacture of these topical agents is unregulated, so purity and strength are unverified. Use of these products can damage healthy skin and lead to severe scarring & disfigurement if used incorrectly.

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) advises consumers against using this product and others like it. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has gone so far as to place Cancema on its list of fake cancer cures. The list consists of 187 treatments and the FDA takes an active role in banning them for the use of treating cancer.

Cancer patients should do their own research about bloodroot paste (another name for cancema) and heed the warning & strict instructions about the use of escharotics for treatment of their condition. The effectiveness of these products is unproven in the eyes of the TGA and pharmaceutical companies.. Conventional treatments for skin cancer include radiation, cryotherapy, Mohs surgery and certain topical agents, including Ingenol mebutate, fluorouracil, and imiquimod.

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