Background: Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is believed to be an important enzyme in the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer (CRC). Correlations between the expression of COX-2 with tumor growth and distant metastasis have become an issue; thus, attention has been paid to COX-2 as a prognostic factor. Various studies examined the relationship between COX-2 immunohistochemistry (IHC) overexpression with the clinical outcome in patients with colorectal cancer, but yielded conflicting results. The prognostic significance of COX-2 overexpression in colorectal cancer remains controversial.
Methods: Electronic databases updated to October 2012 were searched to find relevant studies. A meta-analysis was conducted with eligible studies which quantitatively evaluated the relationship between COX-2 overexpression and survival of patients with colorectal cancer. Survival data were aggregated and quantitatively analyzed.
Results: We performed a meta-analysis of 23 studies (n = 4567 patients) that evaluated the correlation between COX-2 overexpression detected by IHC and survival in patients with colorectal cancer. Combined hazard ratios suggested that COX-2 overexpression had an unfavorable impact on overall survival (OS) (HR [hazard ratio] = 1.193, 95% CI [confidence interval]: 1.02 ∼ 1.37), but not disease free survival (DFS) (HR = 1.25, 95% CI: 0.99 ∼ 1.50) in patients with colorectal cancer.
Conclusions: Cox-2 overexpression in colorectal cancer detected by IHC appears to have slightly worse overall survival. However, the prognostic value of COX-2 on survival in colorectal cancer still needs further large-scale prospective trials to be clarified.