Purpose: To evaluate the influence of a H2 receptor antagonist (cimetidine) on survival in patients with colorectal carcinoma, a randomized, controlled pilot study was performed in three university hospitals in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Methods: A total of 192 patients, who had undergone a resection or an exploratory operation for adenocarcinoma of the colon or rectum between May 1988 and May 1991, were enrolled in the study. After a median observation time of 40 months, outcome was noted for each patient concerning cancer-specific mortality rate.
Results: In patients operated with curative intent (n = 148), no difference was found in cancer-specific mortality between the two treatments. However, a tendency toward reduction in mortality rate was found in patients with curatively operated Dukes Stage C carcinoma (P = 0.11, log-rank test; difference, 29 percent; 90 percent confidence interval, 2 to 57 percent) in the cimetidine-treated group. In patients with disseminated disease no total difference was found between the two treatment groups.
Conclusions: Cimetidine does not seem to reduce mortality in patients with colorectal cancer, but there seems to be a tendency toward a survival benefit in patients undergoing surgery for Dukes Stage C carcinoma. Results seem to justify trials in this patient category to reveal a benefit of H2 receptor antagonists in adjuvant therapy of colorectal carcinoma.