The common painkiller diclofenac might be a weapon against cancer, as a new research shows.
Until now diclofenac has been largely used to treat migraine, rheumatoid arthritis and other pain-causing conditions but it has never been used as a weapon against cancer before.
However, previous research has shown that the drug has important anti-cancer properties and now researchers from the United States and Belgium are studying its properties in preventing the occurrence of cancer.
Diclofenac is a NSAID – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug – pain killer sold under the name of Voltaren, Cambia, Solaraze, Zipsor and other names, being internationally available and very affordable.
The drug has the potential of being used as cancer treatment giving its positive effects on the immune system and its help in transporting oxygen and other nutrients to tissue through blood vessels.
The study has been published online in ecancermedicalscience. The authors analyzed studies since three decades ago that were talking about the drug’s effects against tumors such as colorectal cancer, fibrosarcoma, ovarian cancer, neuroblastoma and other types of cancer.
Medical records dating since decades ago have shown that some cancer patients who have been treated with diclofenac before their tumors have been removed had a reduced risk of metastasis and mortality. This means that the drug might have played a key role in keeping the cancerous cells in control.
Currently four clinical trials are investigating the effects diclofenac might have on cancer. Three of them are testing its effects in combination with a cocktail of drugs, known as TL-118.
Even if the drug doesn’t have preventive effects but only works against metastasis it would still be a great discovery as in the most cases of cancer the primary tumor is not the one killing the patient but the fact that it spreads to other organs, attacking the most important body functions.
If diclofenac would prove to be effective against the spreading of the cancerous cells it could save the lives of millions. Not only that the drug is cheap and widely available across the world but it is also very well tolerated with little side effects and only in some rare cases.
Drugs currently used against cancer have the big problem of not being well tolerated by patients, who often accuse severe side effects such as weight loss, hair loss, nausea, vomiting and others. A drug with no or little side effects would not only save the lives of many but it would also improve the life quality of cancer patients.
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