Cimetidine increases survival of colorectal cancer patients

S Matsumoto, Y Imaeda, S Umemoto, K Kobayashi, H Suzuki and T Okamoto. Cimetidine increases survival of colorectal cancer patients with high levels of sialyl Lewis-X and sialyl Lewis-A epitope expression on tumour cells. British Journal of Cancer (2002) 86, 161 – 167.

Cimetidine has been shown to have beneficial effects in colorectal cancer patients. In this study, a total of 64 colorectal cancer patients who received curative operation were examined for the effects of cimetidine treatment on survival and recurrence. The cimetidine group was given 800 mg day71 of cimetidine orally together with 200 mg day71 of 5-fluorouracil, while the control group received 5-fluorouracil alone. The treatment was initiated 2 weeks after the operation and terminated after 1 year. Robust beneficial effects of cimetidine were noted: the 10-year survival rate of the cimetidine group was 84.6% whereas that of control group was 49.8% (P50.0001). According to our previous observations that cimetidine blocked the expression of E-selectin on vascular endothelium and inhibited the adhesion of cancer cells to the endothelium, we have further stratified the patients according to the expression levels of sialyl Lewis antigens X (sLx) and A (sLa). We found that cimetidine treatment was particularly effective in patients whose tumour had higher sLx and sLa antigen levels. For example, the 10-year cumulative survival rate of the cimetidine group with higher CSLEX staining, recognizing sLx, of tumours was 95.5%, whereas that of control group was 35.1% (P=0.0001). In contrast, in the group of patients with no or low levels CSLEX staining, cimetidine did not show significant beneficial effect (the 10-year survival rate of the cimetidine group was 70.0% and that of control group was 85.7% (P=n.s.)). These results clearly indicate that cimetidine treatment dramatically improved survival in colorectal cancer patients with tumour cells expressing high levels of sLx and sLa.

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