Add Celebrex to
the List of Drugs that Help Prevent Colon Cancer – Aspirin Pain
Relievers May Lower Risk of Colorectal Pre-Cancerous Polyps
April 3rd 2006
It appears that Celebrex (celecoxib) may help inhibit the formation of
pre-cancerous sporadic adenomatous polyps (adenomas) that can lead to
colon cancer. One of the two studies, one funded in part by Celebrex
maker Pfizer, and the National Cancer Institute, found that “sustained,
higher doses of Celebrex for almost three years reduced pre-cancerous
polyps (adenomas) with the greatest benefit for those at highest risk of
Both studies enrolled patients that have already had precancerous colon
polyps removed. Most participants were about 60 years old at the start
of trial and most had cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood
pressure, diabetes, angina, previous heart attacks, strokes or were
In the first study, Prevention of Sporadic Adenomatous Polyps (PreSAP),
about 34% of the patients on 400mg Celebrex developed pre-cancerous
polyps over the three-year study. Of the placebo group, 42% developed
In the second study, the Adenoma Prevention with Celecoxib (APC) trial,
42% of the participants on 400mg of Celebrex developed pre-cancerous
polyps, while 61% of the participants that had no medication developed
the polyps. Overall, this represents up to a 45 percent reduction in
the development of pre-cancerous polyps.
According to Pfizer, one out of five adenomas in the colon develops into
colon cancer if not removed. "Importantly, both trials showed the
largest benefit in people who had the most advanced polyps -- which have
a higher risk of developing into cancer," said Dr. Joseph Feczko, chief
medical officer at Pfizer. "Colorectal cancer takes years to develop and
frequently starts with an adenomatous polyp that transforms over many
years into cancer. These trials reflect the growing focus on the use of
harmaceutical medicines in cancer prevention."
Many patients turn to Celebrex because of its gastrointestinal safety
profile. "This is one of the key reasons we chose Celebrex," said Dr.
Nadir Arber, principal investigator of the PreSAP trial and head of the
Gastrointestinal Oncology Unit, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center,
Israel. "Regular Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as
prescription-strength ibuprofen and naproxen, may also work, but at the
high doses needed in cancer prevention trials, there would be an
unacceptable patient risk for GI complications. The high doses of
Celebrex in these studies had minimal effects on the entire
Aspirin has also been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
Back in 1980, researchers began asking more than 600,000 adults about
their aspirin use. Six years later, when researchers evaluated the
rates and causes of death for the group, they found the death rates from
cancers of the digestive tract, including colorectal cancer, were about
40 percent lower among people who took aspirin 16 or more times a month.
Other studies since have noted the benefits of aspirin.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) back in 2000 issued a statement
describing the preventative benefits of cancer. "Of all the chemical
compounds being investigated for preventing colorectal cancer, aspirin
and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are near the top
of the list, particularly for people at high risk," says Dr. Thun, a
lead investigator of one of the first large-scale studies to document
the aspirin-colorectal cancer link.
By Dan Wilson
Books on Cancer
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