Poster Presentation Joint Scientific Meeting of the Australian & NZ Head & Neck Cancer Society & NZ Association of Plastic Surgeons

An alternative therapy on the rise: colloidal silver and its implications for skin cancer treatment (1235)

Caitlyn Alexandra Walker Withers 1 , Andrew Dettrick 1 , Ryan Livingston 1
  1. Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Birtinya, Sunshine Coast, QLD

The use of silver in medicine can be traced back thousands of years, featuring in different forms and preparations for many indications throughout history. Long recognised for its anti-microbial properties, modern use of silver is now most commonly seen impregnated into dressings, particularly used in chronic wounds and thermal burns.  In recent years colloidal silver has increased in popularity as a ‘natural’ remedy, being readily available online, in alternative health stores and even self-made at home.  Its advocates preach unsubstantiated claims in regard to its efficacy and overestimate the scope of its ability in treating a wide range of serious conditions from HIV to metastatic cancer, without warning users of the possible side effects.  Argyria is a benign, permanent condition associated with ingestion or topical application of silver-containing compounds which results in deposition of silver throughout all body tissues and blue-grey discoloration of the skin.  A 66-year-old gentleman was referred to the plastic and reconstructive clinic regarding a fungating 3.5 x 4cm lesion of his left supra-orbital region which he had been self-treating with daily ingestion of colloidal silver for more than a decade.  Due to this prolonged and heavy consumption he demonstrated marked clinical features of argyria which posed unique challenges for his anaesthetic options, reconstruction planning and adjunctive cancer treatments.  This presentation will discuss a brief history, clinical features and implications of argyria with associated clinical and histopathological images and review the recommendations based on current literature for treating skin cancer in patients with argyria.

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