Effect of NSAIDs on the recurrence of nonmelanoma skin cancer

Int J Cancer. 2006 Aug 1;119(3):682-6. doi: 10.1002/ijc.21878.


Experimental studies have consistently shown a protective effect of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) against nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC). However, little human epidemiological research has been done in this regard. We used data from the Skin Cancer Chemoprevention Study to explore the association of NSAID use and with the risk of basal-cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC). 1,805 subjects with a recent history of NMSC were randomized to placebo or 50 mg of daily beta-carotene. Participants were asked about their use of over-the-counter and prescription medications at baseline and every 4 months during the trial. Skin follow-up examinations were scheduled annually with a study dermatologist; confirmed lesions were the endpoints in the study. We used a risk set approach to the analysis of grouped times survival data and unconditional logistic regression to compute odds ratios [ORs] for various exposures to NSAIDs. The use of NSAIDs was reported in over 50% of questionnaires. For BCC, NSAIDs exhibited a weak protective effect in crude analyses, which attenuated markedly after adjustment. For SCC, the use of NSAIDs in the year previous to diagnosis reduced the odds by almost 30% (adjusted OR=0.71, 95% CI 0.48-1.04). When we accounted for frequency of use, results for BCC were not striking, and there were inconsistent suggestions of an inverse association with SCC. There were some indications of a modest, nonsignificant reduction on the number of BCCs and SCCs with NSAID use. Our data suggest a weak and inconsistent chemopreventive effect of NSAIDs on BCC and SCC.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / prevention & control*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Odds Ratio
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • beta Carotene / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • beta Carotene