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Celebrex May Slow, Prevent Skin Cancers

Study Shows High-Risk Patients Had Fewer Basal Cell Cancers After Taking Celebrex

New Strategy: The Hedgehog Pathway

Tang says it remains to be seen if other oral or even topical NSAIDs can prevent or slow the growth of basal cell carcinomas and other non-melanoma skin cancers.

In an editorial published with the study, Johns Hopkins University oncologist Charles M. Rudin, MD, PhD, writes about another promising skin cancer prevention strategy, which targets something known as the hedgehog pathway.

"The hedgehog pathway is essentially a cell program that is turned on in fetal development but is normally shut off in adult tissue," Rudin tells WebMD. "But in some cancers this pathway is turned on, and basal cell carcinoma is one of those cancers."

In early studies, Rudin and colleagues showed significant reductions in skin lesions when patients with basal cell carcinomas took drugs designed to inhibit, or shut off, the hedgehog pathway.

A trial is now under way in patients with Gorlin syndrome to determine if hedgehog-inhibiting drugs prevent or slow the growth of tumors in this high-risk group.

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