Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The effect of aspirin on cancer survival has been the topic of many studies for a few decades. Epidemiological evidence shows a dual role in the relation between aspirin and cancer; both preventative and therapeutic effects are suggested. The biological mechanism of the effect of aspirin on cancer is still part of debate. However research up until now was mainly done at a single tumor location, mostly colorectal cancer. Since little is known about the etiology of the effect of aspirin, we have undertaken in this study. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the use of aspirin after diagnosis on survival in patients with cancer from the gastrointestinal tract. Stratification in specific localizations in the entire gastro intestinal tract could lead to new insights towards the effect of aspirin as a therapeutic agent.
We studied 13.715 patients and found a really significant survival benefit in patients taking aspirin after diagnosis of gastrointestinal malignancies, except for pancreatic cancer. Survival in patients with gastro intestinal malignancies taking aspirin after diagnosis showed to be twice as high as patients not taking aspirin. At five years after diagnosis, 75% of patients were alive who took aspirin, versus 42% of the patient group not taking aspirin. This effect persisted after correcting for several confounding factors, including age, disease stage and comorbidity.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: The role of aspirin as adjuvant therapy for cancer is becoming more clear, but before it can become regular treatment, more research has to be done. Multiple randomised controlled trials are being initiated at the moment, investigating aspirin as adjuvant therapy for cancer. It is important to study the side effects and the disease specific effect of aspirin on cancer thoroughly before this can be regular treatment.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: In the Netherlands, currently the ‘Aspirin trial’ has been started. This is a randomised controlled trial studying the effect of aspirin in patients with diagnosed colon cancer, stage II and III. Because of the results of our current study, maybe it would be possible to expand this study in, for example, patients with rectal cancer. If aspirin can become a regular treatment for cancer, this will have a great impact on cancer survival and global health.
. “Aspirin and gastro intestinal malignancies; improved survival not only in colorectal cancer?.” Gastrointestinal malignancies — noncolorectal cancer poster session, 09.15-11.15 hrs (CEST), Monday 28 September Hall C
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M.A. Frouws, Study Coordinator ASPIRIN trial (2015). Aspirin Prolongs Survival In All GI Cancers Except Pancreatic