Media Releases

For all media enquiries, please contact

Anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce skin cancer risk

Scientists at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have determined that some anti-inflammatory drugs have the potential to prevent the second most common type of skin cancer.

QIMR Berghofer’s Cancer and Population Studies Group reviewed all available published data on squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and found they could be particularly beneficial to people at high risk of developing these cancers.

QIMR Berghofer’s Dr Catherine Olsen said the analysis found that non-aspirin NSAIDS decreased the risk of SCC by 15 per cent.

“This is the best evidence to date of the effect of NSAIDS on squamous cell skin cancers,” Dr Olsen said.

“Clinicians can now take this into consideration when prescribing anti-inflammatory medication for their patients with other sun-induced skin tumours who may be at high risk of SCC.”

Dr Olsen said due to variations in dosages and duration of use of NSAIDS in the studies assessed for the project, strong and specific recommendations on cancer prevention could not be made at this time.

“This will need to be assessed in large studies and ultimately tested in a clinical trial,” Dr Olsen said.

“The findings are now the subject of further research at QIMR Berghofer.”

Dr Olsen said there can be side-effects with both aspirin and other NSAID use – and people should talk to their general practitioner before taking any medication to reduce their skin cancer risk.

Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most frequently occurring cancers world-wide and is a significant public health burden in Australia affecting six in every 1,000 Australians each year.

It can be life-threatening if it is not detected early.

The analysis also suggested a decreased risk of SCC associated with aspirin use, but this finding was not statistically significant.

The paper has been published today in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology:

Researchers at The University of Queensland also contributed to the study.