Eczema Cream for Children Not a Cancer Risk, Study Finds

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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 18, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- A cream used to treat the skin condition eczema in children does not appear to increase the risk of cancer, according to a study funded by the maker of the cream.

Researchers looked at nearly 7,500 children in the United States who were given an average of 793 grams of pimecrolimus (Elidel) cream to treat eczema and were followed for 10 years.

As of May 2014, five cases of cancer were diagnosed among the children: two leukemias, two lymphomas and one bone cancer. There were no cases of skin cancer, the researchers said.

Based on the findings, "it seems unlikely" that pimecrolimus cream as used in the study to treat eczema is associated with an increased risk of cancer, lead researcher Dr. David Margolis, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues concluded.

The study was published online Feb. 18 in the journal JAMA Dermatology and was funded by Montreal-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.

Eczema, which is common in children, causes patches of skin to become dry, inflamed and often intensely itchy. Pimecrolimus was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001 to treat eczema in children who are at least 2 years old. The product carries a warning about the potential risk of cancer.

The study "will hopefully help to improve the management of [eczema], countering the concerns raised by FDA warnings," Dr. Jon Hanifin, of Oregon Health and Science University, wrote in an editorial that accompanied the study.

The findings "should help reduce the physician and pharmacist concerns that have restricted the use of these effective topical alternatives to corticosteroids. The interim results should help bring relief to a larger segment of the many young individuals with [eczema]," he concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about eczema.