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Allergy Medication Could Help Skin Cancer Patients, Study Finds

A common antihistamine drug could help patients diagnosed with skin cancer melanoma, a new study has suggested.

The Swedish study found there were improved survival rates among skin cancer patients who used the allergy drug desloratadine, and in some cases loratadine, when compared to those who did not use any antihistamines.

Researchers from Lund University carried out the study which examined data from every person in Sweden who had received their first diagnosis of skin cancer between 2006 and 2014.

The study found the common allergy medications were particularly helpful for older patients aged 65 and over.

Professor Håkan Olsson said the use of desloratadine (AERIUS or Clarinex) and loratadine (Claritin) also seemed to reduce the risk of patients being diagnosed with new malignant melanoma.

Desloratadine could help with the survival of skin cancer patients, a study has found. Image: Getty

In total, the study, published in the research journal 'Allergy', examined the use of six antihistamines in the 24,562 patients diagnosed with malignant melanoma during an eight-year period.

Most of the 1,253 antihistamine users used desloratadine (395), cetirizine (324), loratadine (251) or clemastine (192). Others in the study also used ebastine and fexofenadine.

According to Olsson, the use of antihistamine medications other than desloratadine and loratadine showed "no significant survival effect" in patients.

The finding is interesting for a future drug against melanoma and may also help in advanced stages of the disease.

"In addition, the medicines have virtually no side effects."

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While the study could provide hope for skin cancer patients, Olsson stressed that more research still needed to be done to confirm the initial results.

"Previous studies have shown that the same antihistamines have survival benefits in breast cancer," Olsson added.

Olsson said the next stage of research which will focus on the appropriate dosages and treatment periods, will use both animal and human trials.