Colorectal cancer and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Shinichi Ota, Hiromi Bamba, Akira Kato


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can prevent or reduce the occurrence of colorectal cancers. Anti-carcinogenic properties of NSAIDs have been demonstrated in epidemiological studies of humans and experimental animals. In addition, clinical studies of familial adenomatous polyposis and sporadic adenomas have demonstrated that NSAIDs induce regression of colorectal adenomas and prevent formation of these tumors. NSAIDs thus induce early disruption of the adenoma-carcinoma sequence and may mainly suppress subsequent cancer formation at adenoma stage. The mechanism of the anti-carcinogenic effect of these drugs is not known, but results of most studies support that cyclooxygenase-2 (an inducible isoform of prostaglandin synthetase, COX-2) is a major target of NSAIDs in this effect. Recent immunohistochemical studies have revealed that COX-2 is expressed not in tumor cells but in interstitial cells of colonic adenomas. Accordingly, NSAIDs may exhibit anti-carcinogenic property through the inhibition of prostaglandin production by COX-2 expressing interstitial cells. Future research should be focused on the role of prostaglandins in the interaction of tumor cells and interstitial cells in colon carcinogenesis.

Article Options

Download Citation

Cited times in Scopus