Anti-Parasitic May Prevent Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers
Madison, Wisconsin - The same anti-parasitic agent that treats African sleeping sickness may also ward off non-melanoma skin cancer years after treatment, according to research at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center.
Results of a follow-up to the original 10-year study were presented at the 10th Annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Research.
The anti-parasitic, a-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), was used in the original study from 1998 to 2007 by Dr. Howard Bailey, professor of medicine at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
The phase III randomized, double-blind trial of 291 men and women with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer originally determined that the group which received DFMO had fewer basal-cell cancer recurrences. However, DFMO appeared to provide little to no protection against squamous-cell cancers.
In the followup study, Bailey and his team reviewed the medical records of 209 of the original participants. They discovered that participants who took the anti-parasitic agent for up to five years continued to have fewer basal-cell cancers, but the difference lessened over the years since stopping the drug.
They also found no evidence of negative side effects from taking DFMO other than initially observed slight hearing loss while participants took the drug. The follow-up study was presented today by Wisconsin researcher Sarah Kreul at the AACR conference in Boston.
Bailey said more study needs to be done before DFMO can be recommended for prevention of non-melanoma skin cancers. He points out that preventive treatments are needed because public health efforts to curb sun exposure have not resulted in fewer skin-cancer cases. There are about two million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed each year.
Date Published: 10/24/2011