Colon Cancer Prevention

  • Medical Author:
    Dennis Lee, MD

    Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Quick GuideColon Cancer: Symptoms, Signs, Screening, Stages

Colon Cancer: Symptoms, Signs, Screening, Stages

What measures to prevent colorectal cancer probably are effective but may have long term adverse side effects?

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are widely used in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions of the body. Some examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, sulindac (Clinoril), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin and others), naproxen (Aleve, Naproxyn, Anaprox, Naprelan), and piroxicam (Feldene). How NSAIDs prevent colon cancer and polyps is under investigation. (NSAIDs are potent inhibitors of prostaglandins in the body, and prostaglandins may be important in the formation of polyps.)

Why aren't doctors recommending NSAIDs for colorectal cancer prevention? Because NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers, intestinal bleeding and, sometimes, adverse effects on the liver and kidneys. Even though safer NSAIDs have been developed, doctors generally are reluctant to recommend aspirin or other NSAIDs for preventing colorectal cancer until data on their effectiveness and long-term safety are available.

When prescribing an agent for prolonged periods of time to prevent a disease that may or may not occur, the last thing a doctor would want is for that agent to cause adverse side effects in a healthy person.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/23/2016

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