Novel approaches for colon cancer prevention by cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors

J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2002;21(2):155-64.


During recent years, multidisciplinary studies in epidemiology and molecular biology, as well as preclinical studies, have contributed much to our understanding of the etiology of colorectal cancer; more importantly they have enabled us to approach its prevention. An impressive body of epidemiological data suggests an inverse relationship between colorectal cancer risk and regular use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin. Clinical trials with NSAIDs have demonstrated that NSAID treatment caused regression of preexisting colon adenomas in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. Preclinical efficacy studies have provided compelling evidence that several phytochemicals with antiinflammatory properties and NSAIDs act to retard, block, or reverse colon carcinogenesis. Equally exciting are opportunities for effective chemoprevention with selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors including celecoxib and rofecoxib in a variety of preclinical models of colon cancer. Naturally occurring COX-2 inhibitors such as curcumin and certain phytosterols have been proven to be effective as chemopreventive agents against colon carcinogenesis with minimal gastrointestinal toxicity. Multistep process of carcinogenesis has provided substantial insights into the mechanisms by which naturally occurring and synthetic antiinflammatory agents modulate these events leading to suppression of tumorigenesis. Growing knowledge in this area has brought about innovative approaches using a combination of agents with different modes of action as a means of increasing efficacy and minimizing toxicity. The natural history of colorectal cancer, from dysplastic aberrant crypts to adenomas and adenocarcinomas, offers multiple opportunities for assessment and intervention. Of further importance would be to identify molecular targets that are critical in the growth and survival of the malignant colorectal cell and are modulated by NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes / pharmacology
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Plant Preparations / pharmacology
  • Precancerous Conditions
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / pharmacology
  • Risk Factors


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Plant Preparations
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases