Nicotinamide Safe, Effective for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention in High-Risk Patients

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Nicotinamide significantly reduced non-melanoma skin cancer and actinic ketatoses and was well tolerated in high-risk patients.
Nicotinamide significantly reduced non-melanoma skin cancer and actinic ketatoses and was well tolerated in high-risk patients.

Nicotinamide significantly reduced non-melanoma skin cancer and actinic ketatoses and was well tolerated in high-risk patients, a study presented in an American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) presscast ahead of the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting has shown.

Diona Damian, MBBS, PhD, FACD, professor of dermatology at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia, reported phase 3 findings from the ONTRAC study, which enrolled 386 patients between the ages of 30 and 91 who had at least two skin cancers in the past 5 years.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive either a 500 mg nicotinamide tablet twice daily or placebo for 12 months.

Results showed that the average skin cancer lesion count at 12 months was 1.77 and 2.42 in the nicotinamide and placebo groups, respectively (relative rate reduction: 23%; P=0.02). Results were similar for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers.

However, no effect was observed beyond the treatment period.

Researchers also found that nicotinamide reduced premalignant keratoses by approximately 15% over 12 months compared with placebo.

RELATED: Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Incidence Higher in Caucasians

In regard to safety, there was no difference in adverse events or laboratory abnormalities between the two treatment arms.

"Unlike niacin (nicotinic acid), nicotinamide does not cause headaches, flushing, or low blood pressure," Professor Damian said, highlighting the safety of nicotinamide.

Nicotinamide is also inexpensive and already widely available for over the counter purchase, making it a "new opportunity for skin cancer chemoprevention that can be instantly translated to clinical practice," she concluded.

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