Anti-Inflammatory Drug Also an Anti-Cancer Drug?

Celebrex helps fight breast cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Inflammation is thought to play a role in the development and growth of cancer. Researchers have now discovered that treating inflammation may help fight breast cancer.

In a recent study, the anti-inflammatory drug, Celebrex (Celecoxib), was shown to interfere with breast cancer tumor growth. So it may become another helpful additional treatment for people with breast cancer.

"Anti-inflammatory drug, Celebrex, appears to fight breast cancer."

“This is exciting because it means that a medication already used to treat other diseases may be efficient in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer as well,” said lead researcher Juergen Veeck, from Maastricht University Medical Centre in The Netherlands.

Celebrex is currently used to treat arthritis and other painful conditions. It's a member of a class of drugs known as selective COX-2 inhibitors. These drugs directly target COX-2, an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain.

The study shows that targeting the COX-2 enzyme leads to changes in how the cancer cells grow. Researchers said that even short-term treatment with Celebrex helped to program cell death, a process known as apoptosis.

“Celebrex and other ‘coxib’ drugs are generating some excitement as future breast cancer therapy since they are a well-established medication for other diseases, with relatively low toxicity and high safety profiles,” Veeck said.

“Until now, most clinical results suggested coxibs may be useful for cancer prevention. However, our study provides evidence that they may also be efficient as cancer treatments, at least in breast cancer,” Veeck added.

The treatment period in this preliminary study was not long enough to see a significant change of tumor size or histological grade, Dr. Veeck and colleagues note. “For now we can only speculate that a longer treatment with celecoxib would have resulted in measurable tumor shrinkage as well,” the researchers said.

Researchers also believe that celecoxib may also hold promise in working with other cancer fighting drugs for various types of breast cancer.

The study findings were presented at the recent IMPAKT Breast Cancer Conference in Brussels.

The Study

  • Study involved 45 patients who were scheduled to have surgery to remove breast cancer
  • Before surgery, patients were randomly assigned to receive either 400 mg celecoxib twice daily for two to three weeks, or control treatment - either a placebo or no treatment
  • Researchers analyzed particular genes in samples from the tumors before and after treatment.
  • Other tests were performed to determine changes in proliferation and apoptosis
  • After treatment 1,109 genes were significantly up-regulated and 556 genes were significantly down-regulated in celecoxib-treated breast cancer tissues when compared to control treatment, they found.
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Review Date: 
May 10, 2011
Last Updated:
May 26, 2011