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    New Prevention Weapon for Those at Risk for Colon Cancer

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    It is hoped, Lynch tells WebMD, that perhaps the number of polyps might be diminished either through Celebrex alone or in a combination therapy, and then surgery may help manage the disease without resorting to complete colon removal.

    However, removing the colon, Raymond N. DuBois, MD, PhD, tells WebMD, is "still the gold standard and suggested therapy" for this disease. DuBois is director of cancer prevention at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn.

    The success of Celebrex at warding off colon cancer isn't surprising to some. Gideon Steinbach, MD, another MD Anderson researcher, told WebMD in an interview last year that drugs that are effective in familial adenomatous polyposis could be very useful for preventing sporadic colon cancer.

    Lynch tells WebMD that research has started looking at the drug's use in sporadic polyps at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

    These patients are those who have a few polyps found during a colon exam and also are at increased risk for cancer for this reason. These usually are removed, but 40% of these polyps return in about a year, DuBois explains. "The drug might be useful for that as well," he says. By taking the drug, perhaps the polyps won't return, or not as many will return.

    The study was supported by a contract with the NCI, a Cancer Center Support grant, and contracts with Searle Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Celebrex.

    Vital Information:

    • The arthritis drug Celebrex may improve treatment for people with a rare disease, called familial adenomatous polyposis, which almost always leads to colon cancer.
    • Beginning as early as age 10, a person with FAP develops precancerous polyps in the colon, and the colon eventually is removed through surgery.
    • Taking Celebrex inhibits the growth of these polyps by 30%, and researchers hope this may allow surgery to remove the colon to be delayed until after the teen-age years.

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