Published online Mar 7, 2006. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i9.1336
Revised: November 10, 2005
Accepted: December 7, 2005
Published online: March 7, 2006
Selective cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 inhibitors (coxibs) were developed as one of the anti-inflammatory drugs to avoid the various side effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, coxibs also have an ability to inhibit tumor development of various kinds the same way that NSAIDs do. Many experimental studies using cell lines and animal models demonstrated an ability to prevent tumor proliferation of COX-2 inhibitors. After performing a randomized study for polyp chemoprevention study in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), which showed that the treatment with celecoxib, one of the coxibs, significantly reduced the number of colorectal polyps in 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) immediately approved the clinical use of celecoxib for FAP patients. However, some coxibs were recently reported to increase the risk of serious cardiovascular events including heart attack and stroke. In this article we review a role of COX-2 in carcinogenesis of gastrointestinal tract, such as the esophagus, stomach and colorectum, and also analyze the prospect of coxibs for chemoprevention of gastrointestinal tract tumors.