A role for cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors in the prevention and treatment of cancer

Semin Oncol. 2002 Jun;29(3 Suppl 11):111-9. doi: 10.1053/sonc.2002.34063.


Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is being intensively evaluated as a pharmacologic target for both the prevention and treatment of cancer. Aberrant COX-2 expression was initially described in colorectal cancers and has now been detected in many human tumors, including breast cancers. Strikingly, forced expression of COX-2 in murine mammary gland drives tumor formation. Moreover, knocking out COX-2 protects against the formation of intestinal and skin tumors in animal cancer models. Consistent with these findings, selective COX-2 inhibitors possess anticancer properties. For example, selective COX-2 inhibitors reduce the formation and growth of experimental breast and colon cancers. Importantly, selective COX-2 inhibitors do not inhibit platelet function and cause fewer gastrointestinal side effects (peptic ulcer disease) than traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Clinical trials are warranted to define the role of selective COX-2 inhibitors in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism
  • Rodentia


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases