Painkiller Diclofenac may become the future cancer killer

By on
Medicine pills
Various medicine pills in their original packaging are seen in Ljubljana February 14, 2012. Reuters/Srdjan Zivulovic

Diclofenac, a common wallet-friendly painkiller, has significant anti-cancer properties, according to a new study. Researchers from the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project said that popular non-cancer drugs may be the key to providing new treatment therapies for cancer.

Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to alleviate pain in conditions such as acute gout, migraine, fever, rheumatoid arthritis and post-operative pain. The drug is available in generic form. Researchers from ReDO, an international collaboration between Anticancer Fun Belgium and GlobalCures, claim that there is enough evidence to begin trials on the use of this medicine in treating cancer.

Experts have previously suggested that NSAIDs have shown potential in preventing cancer, and this new study is an actual evidence that confirms the drugs’ ability to treat the disease. When taken with other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, Diclofenac may improve the overall efficacy of the therapies.

The study, published online in the journal ecancermedicalscience, stated that scientists have studied the effects of NSAIDs on cancer since 1994. Diclofenac was shown to reduce ovarian cancer cells. The researchers have also noted similar results in other cancers such as pancreatic cancer.

Study author Pan Pantziarka, member of the ReDO project and the Anticancer Fund, said in a press release that it is surprising that there is still little knowledge about how common medicines really work. However, more research is crucial, so experts can see that these drugs are multi-targeted agents with benefits in the field of oncology.

Considering the action of diclofenac, it may well be effective to treat cancer especially when given in the preoperative period. Decreasing the risk of spreading cancer during post-surgery may represent a huge chance in fighting cancer.

"After all, it's metastatic disease that most often kills patients, not the original primary disease," Pantziarka claimed. "It may also be that diclofenac may have actions which synergise with the latest generation of checkpoint inhibitors -- the combination of the latest drugs in the anticancer armoury with some of the oldest is especially exciting."