Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in colorectal cancer: from prevention to therapy

Br J Cancer. 2003 Mar 24;88(6):803-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6600829.


In this review, we discuss the available experimental evidences supporting the chemopreventive efficacy of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on colorectal cancer and the biological basis for their possible role as anticancer agents. Although the comprehension of the mechanisms underlying the effects of these drugs on colon cancer cells is incomplete, research efforts in identifying the biochemical pathway by which NSAIDs exert their chemopreventive effect have provided a rationale for the potential use of NSAIDs alone or in combination with conventional and experimental anticancer agents in the treatment of colorectal cancer. In this paper, we review three main issues: (i) the role of COX-2 in colon cancer; (ii) the common death pathways between NSAIDs and anticancer drugs; and (iii) the biological basis for the combination therapy with COX-2 selective inhibitors and new selective inhibitors of growth factor signal transduction pathways.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis
  • Chemoprevention
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Growth Substances / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes / pharmacology*
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Growth Substances
  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases