Did you know that there are medications other than chemotherapy which have shown promise as anticancer agents? Such medications were approved for a non-cancer indication, but found in subsequent research to target cancer cells in a unique way.
In an effort to target cancer as thoroughly as possible, we willingly utilize some of these medications in our treatment protocols. Because they are not FDA-approved to treat cancer, we are using them in a repurposed fashion. Repurposing medications entails using them in an “off-label” fashion for a use that is separate from its FDA-approved indication.
The use of prescription medications in off-label fashion is an approved practice, left to the discretion of physicians. The use of medications in this way is a common occurrence, although unfortunately not common enough as it relates to cancer treatment today. In our office, we take seriously the recommendation for patients to take prescription medications, carefully weighing the potential benefits with the possible risks. We make every attempt to ensure that any medication we add to the protocol is as safe as possible. The advantage we have with these medications is that they have been used for years, if not decades, in one form or another, and we thus have significant knowledge of their actions and potential side effects.
Below are some examples of repurposed medications which can be used in the cancer treatment setting. Please note that the medications listed here are not necessarily part of our protocols, and are not intended to be an endorsement of their use. Rather, they are included here to illustrate the fact that common medications have been found to have possible anticancer applications as well. Needless to say, this is an emerging area of research.
Today, we typically associate aspirin with its cardiovascular benefits. However, many people don’t know that it is also an anti-cancer drug. A recent study evaluated all existing evidence for low dose aspirin (81 mg) in the treatment of cancer, and concluded that it could increase survival by up to 20% and significantly reduce metastases.