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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

Add Celebrex to the List of Drugs that Help Prevent Colon Cancer – Aspirin Pain Relievers May Lower Risk of Colorectal Pre-Cancerous Polyps

Tubular adenoma

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 polyp recurrence.”

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 smokers.  

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 the polyps. 


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 gastrointestinal tract."

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.    

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

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