Background: Epidemiological studies have suggested a protective effect of cyclooxygenase (COX)-inhibiting non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in breast cancer risk and disease progression. We performed a systematic review to evaluate the frequency of COX-2 expression in normal breast epithelium, ductal carcinoma in situ of breast (DCIS), DCIS-adjoining invasive breast cancer, microinvasive carcinoma of the breast (MICB) and invasive breast cancer.
Methods: Literature searches were carried out on MEDLINE, EMBASE and Web of Science from their commencement until September 2010. Primary studies examining COX-2 expression by immunohistochemistry methodology were included. Meta-analyses were carried out using random effects models for individual study estimates of COX-2 expression and pooled to give an overall estimate.
Results: The pooled prevalences (95% confidence intervals) of COX-2 expressions were 53% (44-61) in DCIS studies and 42% (36-49) in the invasive breast cancer studies. There were too few studies involving normal breast epithelium, DCIS-adjoining invasive breast cancer and MICB to conduct meta-analyses.
Conclusion: The findings from our meta-analyses have shown similar COX-2 expression in DCIS and invasive breast cancer. This may suggest the involvement of COX-2 in early carcinogenesis. Further studies of COX-2 expression in DCIS are required to investigate the use of COX-2 as a potential drug target for prevention of disease progression in DCIS.