A study recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that a common arthritis drug offers better protection from non-melanoma skin cancers than sunscreen.
In the double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled trial that included 240 patients between 37 and 87 years of age, researchers at the University of Rochester found that patients who took Celebrex enjoyed a 62 percent reduction in non-melanoma skin cancers.
The rate of decrease is much greater than that achieved through the use of sunscreen, which provides only moderate protection against the same cancers (Futurity).
Participants were at high risk for the development of non-melanoma skin cancers and had between 10 and 40 actinic keratoses – rough, scaly patches usually found on sun-exposed areas that come about from too much time in the sun and are prone to progress to skin cancer (URMC).
The drug, a brand-name nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), has been shown to have negative gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side effects when used to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and acute pain. These effects occured in less than 15 percent of patients treated in the cancer study.
“For individuals who are at very high risk of skin cancer, this may be a method to reduce the number of new tumors they develop, despite the drug’s known side effects,” said Alice Pentland, M.D., study author and chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The number of nonmelanoma skin cancers increased dramatically in the United States from 1992 to 2006, according to a study published in a March 2010 issue of the Archives of Dermatology. It found that the overall number of procedures for NMSC among Medicare patients rose by 76 percent during that time, from 1,158,298 in 1992 to 2,048,517 in 2006.
It is estimated that the direct cost of treatment for non-melanoma skin cancers in the United States exceeds $1.4 billion each year.
If you’re concerned that you might be at risk for skin cancer, or wonder if it’s time to have that strange spot inspected by a dermatologist, check out the ABCs of Skin Cancer Warning Signs.
Image Credit: Flickr - dailylifeofmojo