Genetic colorectal cancer: well-known drug reduces tumor formation by over 50 percent

Mesalazine: Old drug for intestinal diseases significantly reduces tumor formation

Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in Germany. Around 26,000 people die of it every year in Germany. Health experts say that about two to three percent of all colorectal cancer can be attributed to Lynch syndrome. An international team of researchers has now found that Lynch syndrome patients who receive the active substance mesalazine develop tumors significantly less often.

Every eighth cancer affects the intestine

According to the German Cancer Aid Foundation, around every eighth cancer of women and men in Germany affects the intestine. "Under the generic term" colon cancer "cancers of the colon (colon), the rectum (rectum / rectum) and the colon exit (anus) are summarized," write the experts on their website. According to doctors, about two to three percent of all colorectal cancer can be attributed to Lynch syndrome. Researchers have now found that Lynch syndrome patients who receive a specific drug that has been on the market for a long time are much less likely to develop tumors.

The most common genetic tumor disease of the intestine

Health experts say that almost a third of colorectal cancer cases involve a family risk.

In addition to the family history, there are other factors that can increase the risk of colon cancer.

The risk is greater in people suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

In addition, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption and malnutrition, such as a very high-fat and meat-rich diet, are among the factors that increase the risk of colon cancer.

However, around two to three percent of all colorectal cancers can be attributed to Lynch syndrome, the most common genetic tumor disease of the intestine.

Scientists have now found that Lynch syndrome patients who receive the anti-inflammatory active ingredient mesalazine develop tumors less frequently and that the number of new tumors (neoplasias) also decreases significantly.

Experts from the University Clinic for Surgery and the University Clinic for Internal Medicine III of the Medical University (MedUni) Vienna participated in the international research team.

Confirmation of the results expected

"On average, 94 out of 100 affected people develop tumors; when the active substance is given, there are only 69", explains Judith Karner-Hanusch, an expert in general, vascular and visceral surgery at the MedUni Vienna in a message.

"The number of tumors in turn is reduced from an average of 3.1 to 1.4 per patient." This could be shown in the mouse model. The phase II study in humans is now imminent.

However, the results are so promising that one can expect confirmation of the results, says Christoph Gasche, head of the Molecular Carcinoma Laboratory and member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC), a joint institution of MedUni Vienna and AKH Vienna.

"We should be able to prove that by taking this drug, which has already been approved for many indications, patients are largely freed from the inherited tumor burden."

The study is being carried out together with scientists from Germany, Poland, Israel, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Risk of uterine cancer increases

Mesalazine is an amine derivative of salicylic acid (5-aminosalicylic acid / 5-ASA), which is used as an anti-inflammatory drug in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis).

In the animal model it could be shown that mesalazine in the genetically inheritable Lynch syndrome leads to a reduction in the number of tumors by 50 percent.

The risk group for Lynch syndrome includes people in whose family there has been at least one related patient before the age of 50, in whose family the disease can be found in at least two successive generations, and in whose family it has three relatives associated with inherited forms of colorectal cancer Carcinomas exist (Amsterdam II criteria) - as well as the young age of onset.

In addition, emphasizes Karner-Hanusch, uterine cancer (endometrial cancer) can strongly indicate genetic mutations and Lynch syndrome:

"Women with cervical cancer, not to be confused with cervical cancer (note HPV), carry a 40 percent risk of genetically caused colon cancer and should be tested." (Ad)

Author and source information

Video: Genetic Counseling and Colorectal Cancer Risk (January 2022).