JNCI Logo The drug celecoxib recommended for patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis seems to be beneficial in the battle against cancer too. According to a groundbreaking study, celecoxib can help prevent non-melanoma skin cancers in patients with extensive actinic keratosis. It is known that extensive actinic keratosis is a precursor to non-melanoma skin cancers.

In order to affirm that celecoxib declines incidence of new actinic keratosis, experts undertook a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial. The investigation encompassed 240 people with actinic keratoses, or precancerous skin lesions. The number of new lesions after 3, 6, and 9 months of therapy and at 2 months after the completion of therapy were analyzed. It appeared that the number of new precancerous lesions in the group of people taking celecoxib and those on placebo was the same. After the end of the trial, those on celecoxib reported a statistically fewer number of non-melanoma skin cancers than the placebo group.

Authors elucidate, “The findings of this study, which showed that the celecoxib-treated individuals developed fewer non-melanoma skin cancers than placebo-treated individuals, suggest that cyclooxygenase inhibitors may provide an additional benefit to sunscreens in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancers.”

Craig A. Elmets, M.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues, presume that celecoxib does not reduce the number of precancerous lesions. In animal studies celecoxib possibly decreased precancerous lesions and non-melanoma skin cancers. Though inconsistent results were registered, in later stages of tumor development the drug’s efficacy may be unchanging. It was suggested that celecoxib is capable of reducing the number of non-melanoma skin cancers, but not the number of precancerous lesions. Additional investigations will be triggered for scrutinizing the benefits of celecoxib by lowering its frequency.

The study is published online in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.