Aspirin or Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs for the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations. Ann Intern Med. 2007;146:I-35. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-146-5-200703060-00003
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2007;146(5):I-35.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is a group of health experts that reviews published research and makes recommendations about preventive health care.
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon (large intestine) or rectum. Screening decreases deaths due to colorectal cancer by detecting precancerous abnormalities (polyps) and removing them before they become cancerous and by detecting cancer in an early stage when it can still be cured with surgery. Chemoprevention is another strategy to prevent colorectal cancer. Chemoprevention means taking a drug to reduce the risk for a disease. Studies suggest that taking high doses of daily aspirin or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, may reduce a person’s risk for polyps and colorectal cancer. However, theses drugs have side effects. Whether people should routinely take aspirin or NSAIDs to reduce their risk for colorectal cancer depends on whether the benefits of colorectal cancer reduction outweigh the risks for side effects.
The USPSTF reviewed published research to evaluate the benefits and harms of taking aspirin or NSAIDs to prevent colorectal cancer.
Fair to good studies show that aspirin or NSAIDs taken in high doses for long periods reduce the risk for polyps and colorectal cancer. However, there is little evidence that taking these drugs reduces the risk for dying from colorectal cancer. Good studies also show that taking low-dose aspirin (the amount recommended to prevent heart attack and stroke in people at risk for these conditions) does not reduce the risk for colorectal cancer. Good studies show that side effects are associated with taking aspirin or NSAIDs at doses that might prevent colorectal cancer. These side effects include bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract for both aspirin and NSAIDs, bleeding into the brain for aspirin, and kidney problems or cardiovascular disease for NSAIDs.
The USPSTF recommends against the routine use of aspirin or NSAIDs to prevent colorectal cancer in people at average risk for the disease.
These recommendations do not apply to patients with a personal history of colorectal cancer or other conditions that put them at high risk for the disease.
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Gastroenterology/Hepatology, Hematology/Oncology, Gastrointestinal Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Prevention/Screening.
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