Chemoprevention backgrounder: Working for a future of cancer chemoprevention

baby aspirin was greater than that of a full strength tablet, which only reduced polyps by four percent. Research is under way to understand why this is so.

Bresalier also is studying the effect of taking a combination of vitamin D and calcium on the development of polyps in people who are an average risk for developing colon cancer. Previous work has suggested that both supplements could offer some protection, so "it makes sense to look at them together," says Bresalier. The 2,400-participant trial is being conducted at nine institutions, including M. D. Anderson.

And still other strategies to prevent colon cancer also are being tested here, including a clinical trial that pits aspirin against the NSAID Sulindac.

Despite promising results testing COX-2 inhibitors, none of M. D. Anderson's researchers suggest that healthy people take these drugs to ward off cancer. "We need to be sure that the long-term benefits of these and other chemopreventives outweigh any major side effects before prescribing these medications for continuous usage over many years," says Levin.

Lotan suspects that for long-term cancer control, people may benefit from combining an NSAID with a safe synthetic retinoid known as fenretinide, which has been shown in an Italian clinical trial to help premenopausal women control their risk of breast cancer. Researchers at M. D. Anderson plan to initiate such a trial.

"People are probably impatient with us, hoping that we can say they should take a baby aspirin for the rest of their lives to prevent cancer," says Hong. "But I don't think aspirin by itself is strong enough, or good enough, to modulate carcinogenesis."

Agents to ward off top gender-based cancers M. D. Anderson physicians and researchers also have been taking on the two big gender-specific cancers - breast and prostate - in both large and small chemoprevention studies.

In breast cancer, the researchers are intent upon improving

Contact: Nancy Jensen
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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