UAB: Celebrex may prevent some skin cancers

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are saying that a medicine for arthritis pain may be one way to prevent some skin cancers.

The drug Celebrex or celecoxib is used mainly for arthritis and osteoarthritis pain. Researchers have found that it could prevent skin cancers from developing on patients with certain conditions.

Previous research has suggested that cyclooxygenase 2 is involved in the development of non-melanoma skin cancers. Celebrex has been show to inhibit cyclooxygenase 2 and inhibit the precursor to some malignant skin cancers.

The testing for the drug included a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 240 subjects between the ages of 37 to 87 years. Each subject had between 10 to 40 pre-cancerous lesions. During the first 9 months, there was not any difference between the placebo group and the Celebrex group, but during the 11th month of treatment, the Celebrex group was shown to be highly effective at preventing non-melanoma skin cancers.

"While celecoxib was not effective in preventing new actinic keratoses the study raises the possibility that the drug is effective in preventing cancer from developing from the precancerous actinic keratoses lesions," Elmets said.

Future tests will be made to see if similar drugs can also be used in skin cancer treatment.

Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.