A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 skin cancer prevention study of α-difluoromethylornithine in subjects with previous history of skin cancer

Howard H. Bailey, Kyungmann Kim, Ajit K. Verma, Karen Sielaff, Paul O. Larson, Stephen Snow, Theresa Lenaghan, Jaye L. Viner, Jeff Douglas, Nancy E. Dreckschmidt, Mary Hamielec, Marcy Pomplun, Harry H. Sharata, David Puchalsky, Eric R. Berg, Thomas C. Havighurst, Paul P. Carbone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Preclinical studies have shown that the inhibition of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) by α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) and resultant decreases in tissue concentrations of polyamines (putrescine and spermidine) prevents neoplastic developments in many tissue types. Clinical studies of oral DFMO at 500 mg/m2/day revealed it to be safe and tolerable and resulted in significant inhibition of phorbol ester-induced skin ODC activity. Two hundred and ninety-one participants (mean age, 61 years; 60% male) with a history of prior nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC; mean, 4.5 skin cancers) were randomized to oral DFMO (500 mg/m2/day) or placebo for 4 to 5 years. There was a trend toward a history of more prior skin cancers in subjects randomized to placebo, but all other characteristics including sunscreen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use were evenly distributed. Evaluation of 1,200 person-years of follow-up revealed a new NMSC rate of 0.5 events/person/year. The primary end point, new NMSCs, was not significantly different between subjects taking DFMO and placebo (260 versus 363 cancers, P = 0.069, two-sample t test). Evaluation of basal cell (BCC) and squamous cell cancers separately revealed very little difference in squamous cell cancer between treatment groups but a significant difference in new BCC (DFMO, 163 cancers; placebo, 243 cancers; expressed as event rate of 0.28 BCC/person/year versus 0.40 BCC/person/ year, P = 0.03). Compliance with DFMO was >90% and it seemed to be well tolerated with evidence of mild ototoxicity as measured by serial audiometric examination when compared with placebo subjects. The analysis of normal skin biopsies revealed a significant (P < 0.05) decrease in 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced ODCactivity (month 24, 36, and 48) and putrescine concentration (month 24 and 36 only) in DFMO subjects. Subjects with a history of skin cancer taking daily DFMO had an insignificant reduction (P = 0.069) in new NMSC that was predominantly due to a marked reduction in new BCC. Based on these data, the potential of DFMO, alone or in combination, to prevent skin cancers should be explored further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-47
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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