OHSU Begins Study on 'Superaspirin' to Treat Colon Cancer

02/04/00    Portland, Ore.

Researchers Hope to Increase Survival Rates Among Patients with Advanced Cancer

Researchers at Oregon Health Sciences University are beginning a study to test an enzyme inhibitor, dubbed a "superaspirin," on patients with colon cancer. The study will team up the drug celecoxib with two known chemotherapy agents to increase the effectiveness of treatment for people with advanced stages of the disease.

"We know that when people get to the advanced stage of this disease, they have very little chance for long-term survival, even with chemotherapy," said Charles Blanke, M.D., OHSU oncologist and principal investigator of the study. "We think this superaspirin will boost the effectiveness of the chemo. The purpose of this study is to test the safety of the combination and to preliminarily find out if this can provide a short-term or maybe a long-term solution."

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer killer in the United States, claiming about 56,000 lives each year. Approximately 130,000 Americans--men and women--are diagnosed annually. If detected early enough, surgery can save the lives of nearly 100 percent of people with colon cancer. Unfortunately, it is often not detected until the disease is advanced. The study will recruit 60 patients, 30 men and 30 women, who have not responded to conventional treatment.

Celecoxib is a potent member of the non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory class of drugs that includes over-the-counter aspirin. Specifically, celecoxib inhibits the function of COX-2, an enzyme commonly found in colon cancer tumors, and suppresses the tumor's growth. Celecoxib is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of arthritis and has been shown to result in fewer ulcers than other aspirins like naproxen and ibuprofen.


Patients interested in participating in the study can call (503) 494-6540.