Serendipity is the word used by medical researchers to describe a situation where a drug developed for one condition turns out to be useful in another unrelated condition. That’s the case with the widely used arthritis drug, Celebrex. Two studies reported in 2006 found that use of Celebrex can diminish the growth of precancerous polyps by 33% to 45% for patients who have had polyps removed prior to using that drug. Celebrex was also found to make a difference in lowering polyp formations for patients with a rare, genetic form of colon cancer called Familiar Adenomatous Polyposis.
Celebrex is a Cox-2 Inhibitor that works for arthritis symptoms by reducing inflammation at the Cox-2 enzyme. Unfortunately drugs of the Cox-2 Inhibitor class promote a higher rise of heart attack of stroke in some patients. The incidents and adverse publicity has caused two other Cox-2 drugs, Vioxx and Bextra, to be taken off the market by drug manufacturers. As a Cox-2 Inhibitor, Celebrex has that potential for some patients. Yet by reducing inflammation at that target, Celebrex can also reduce precancerous and cancerous growths for some patients.
An encouraging study on Celebrex and colon cancer was reported at the American Association for Cancer Research. Among patients who previously had precancerous polyps removed, only 41% had a reoccurrence of polyps after using Celebrex for one year. The group who took a placebo drug (not Celebrex) had a 61% reoccurrence of polyps in the same time period. As for adverse reactions, 3.4% of the test subjects had a heart attack or stroke while 2.5% of the placebo group had heart problems.
The American study was repeated at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Isreal. In the Isreali study, 34% of the patients using Celebrex had new polyp growths compared with 49% of the placebo group. The incidence of heart problems in this study was 7.5% for the Celebrex group and 4.6% for the placebo group.
Vanderbilt University research, Dr. Raymond DuBois, stated that the use of Celebrex was most effective for patients who had “the biggest polyps and the most polyps removed.” For patients at risk for precancerous polyp growth, this information is promising as a preventative measure.
Not all researchers agree on the use of Celebrex for colon cancer. Dr. Bruse Psaty, professor of medicine at University of Washington Seattle disputes the use of Celebrex because he feels the risks to the patient are higher than the benefits. Dr. Psaty’s study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers are now looking into ways to use Celebrex to prevent or diminish reoccurrence of colon cancer polyps without causing new problems due to heart attack or stroke. One focus of interest is to conduct more detailed screening of patients to rule out persons at risk for heart problems. Until the battle of opinions in the medical research community is settled, the Food and Drug Administration ordered the manufacturers of Celebrex to place a “black box warning” on the drug package that warns patients of potential heart and stroke risk.
Omeprazole Colon Cancer
Omeprazole is better known by it’s commonly used name, Prilosec OTC. This medication is primarily used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers or other conditions characterized by excess amount of stomach acid. The medication is intended for daily use over a limited number of days with potential to repeat the course of treatment after four months.
Dyspepsia is a problem with digestion in which chronic or recurrent pain occurs in the upper abdomen. A patient with dyspepsia may be bloated or feel full even without overeating. Nausea and heartburn are also symptoms. Other types of gastric disorders have symptoms that are similar to those of colon cancer.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammation of the large intestine and rectum which is chronic painful and usually identified after the patient experiences bloody diarrhea. This condition may strike younger adults from ages 15-30 then the instances of the condition increase after age 50. Diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and vomiting are symptoms of this condition. Crohn’s disease is another disease of the colon that has similar symptoms.
These diseases involving the digestive system and colon have symptoms that are comparable and thus making an accurate diagnosis can be confusing. Patients who take Omeprazole for GERD or other digestive conditions are asked to report any adverse symptoms such as: * Vomiting and nausea * Painful swallowing * Heartburn that continues more than three months * Dizziness or lightheadedness * Unexplained weight loss * Abdominal bloating * Chest pain * Bloody or black stools
Consider that these symptoms are some of the same ones that are indicators for colon cancer such as;
* Vomiting and nausea * Unexplained weight loss * Bloody stools * History of Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease * Feeling full even without overeating * Abdominal bloating
Clearly the concern in the health care community is that patient who is focused on taking medication to treat GERD or other gastrointestinal conditions will not pay attention to symptoms that may be early warning for colon cancer. It is also possible that the physician becomes intent on treating the gastrointestinal condition and does not order additional testing to explore possible symptomatic connections for colon cancer.
The patient may ignore colon cancer symptoms by thinking that these are just other aspects of GERD or that they are side effects of taking Omeprazole. Sadly the risk of developing colon cancer increases over time for patients with colitis or Crohn’s disease so this is no time to ignore any symptoms.