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Colon Cancer Prevention Trial Seeking New Patients

Can drugs used to help lower cholesterol also keep colon cancer from returning? NSABP Logo

Researchers at the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) are seeking patients for a one-year clinical trial to determine if cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) might help prevent the growth of precancerous (adenomatous) polyps and/or recurrent colorectal cancer.

The NSABP trial is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and has recently expanded to include patients with stage 0, I, II or III colon cancer at diagnosis. Patients can enter the study up to one year after their initial diagnosis.

In 2011, Fight Colorectal Cancer’s late Director of Research Communications Kate Murphy wrote about the trial and its efforts to study whether patients taking statins also saw a side benefit of colorectal cancer prevention.

In her post, Murphy noted that research studies of statins and colorectal cancer showed some conflict. Researchers looking at cell processes have found that statins block a protein that is important in cell growth. Blocking its action may prevent colon cancer from spreading or polyps from developing.

NSABP Protocol Chair Dr. Bruce Boman said that although “some retrospective observational studies suggest that statins prevent colorectal cancer, others do not.” Writing in the NCI Cancer Bulletin, Boman also said that longer term, prospective studies on tumor development were needed to determine the efficacy of statins.

Patients who are already on a statin drug to treat high cholesterol are not eligible for the study. For more information about the trial, patients can email Coloncancer.prevention@nsabp.org or call 1-855-NSABPCA  (1-855-672-2722).  The trial organizers have also posted a detailed video overview of the P-5 Colon Cancer Prevention study.

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