Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality from cancer in the United States and the world. Currently, there is no effective treatment of CRC other than surgical resection. Although screening programs aimed at early detection of CRC have been advocated, the optimal methods remain uncertain. An alternative method is to use pharmacological or dietary agents to prevent the formation of CRC by the general approach called chemoprevention. Epidemiological and clinical evidence indicate that several such agents, including aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), folate, calcium, and estrogen replacement therapy may be effective in the chemoprevention of CRC. Further randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trials are needed to identify a safe and definitive agent that can prevent CRC in the general population.
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