In some studies, 5-aminosalicylates as a class have been associated with protective effects against colorectal cancer in inflammatory bowel disease. In practice, only mesalamine at doses greater than 1.2 g per day is currently widely in this setting. The specific impact of mesalamine at these doses has not has not previously been determined.
We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of mesalamine on risk of colorectal neoplasia (CRN) from prior cohort and case-control studies. Sensitivity analyses for study setting and case definition were performed. A quality assessment was made of all included studies.
Mesalamine was associated with a modest reduction in the odds ratio (OR) of CRN (OR = 0.6, 95% confidence interval, 0.4-0.9, P = 0.04). This effect was only noted in hospital-based studies and only in the reduction of all CRN (not cancers alone). Patients prescribed doses >1.2 g per day had a lower risk of CRN (OR = 0.5, 95% confidence interval, 0.3-0.9, P = 0.02) than lower doses. This effect was also only present in the hospital-based studies. In contrast, there was no reduction in the risk of CRN in patients prescribed sulfasalazine (OR = 0.8, 95% confidence interval, 0.5-1.2, P = 0.3), regardless of study setting.
Mesalamine, particularly at doses >1.2 g per day, produces a modest reduction in the risk of CRN in inflammatory bowel disease patient populations from referral centers. Sulfasalazine does not seem to reduce the risk. No benefit was noted in population-based studies.