The neatest scientific advance in skin cancer treatment

October 1, 2015

In the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer, “the fastest-moving area-and the neatest from a science standpoint-is the class of drugs called hedgehog pathway inhibitors.”

In the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer, “the fastest-moving area-and the neatest from a science standpoint-is the class of drugs called hedgehog pathway inhibitors.”

That’s the message Scott Dinehart, M.D., delivered in his presentation, “Medical Advances in Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer,” yesterday (Thursday, Oct. 1), the opening day of the Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference in Las Vegas.

Dr. Dinehart, a Little Rock, Ark., dermatologist, says hedgehog pathway inhibitors are approved for certain patients with basal cell carcinoma.

READ: Advancing BCC treatment

“The average dermatology practitioner will not use these molecules on a daily basis, however, the medications are very useful for a small subset of patients for which other treatments are not optimal,” he says. “Using this class of medications requires knowledge and experience and can be extremely satisfying from both a practitioner and a patient viewpoint.”

According to Dr. Dinehart, some common medications with which dermatologists are already familiar and comfortable are hedgehog pathway inhibitors-the anti-fungal drug itraconazole and imiquimod are examples. What excites him are advances in putting this class of drugs to work.

“There are new ways to use hedgehog pathway inhibitors-continuously, intermittently, shrinking a tumor prior to surgery, in combination-so that the hedgehog pathway is blocked in more than one part of the pathway,” he says.

Dr. Dinehart believes more such advances are in store for these drugs.

READ: Hh inhibitors a less invasive tx for BCC

“We will continue to see more innovative ways to use hedgehog pathway inhibitors in skin cancer patients,” he says. “Combination or dual therapy with multiple hedgehog pathway inhibitors is something that may increase efficacy and diminish resistance. We will see more research on this in the future.”

More on the Hedgehog signaling pathway