Aspirin Could Improve Colon Cancer Survival Rates

Pharmacy Times, September 2016 Men's Health, Volume 82, Issue 9

Although aspirin is best known as a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory, the results of a recent study suggest that the drug's use could improve a patient's odds of surviving colon cancer.

Although aspirin is best known as a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory, the results of a recent study suggest that the drug’s use could improve a patient’s odds of surviving colon cancer. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, examined data from the Norwegian Cancer Registry and the Norwegian Prescription Database on over 23,000 patients. Based on their analysis, the research team determined that the use of aspirin was associated with a 15% to 25% decrease in mortality among colon cancer patients.

Although aspirin has previously been found to protect against the development of cancer in the intestine, the study authors noted that there are a number of risks to using the drug as a means of cancer prevention in healthy patients, as it could cause brain hemorrhages and gastric ulcers in some patients. However, they added that the use of aspirin could be particularly effective in preventing relapse in patients who have already been treated for colon cancer.

“Because the patients’ immune system can mobilize antitumor immunity only after exposure to cancer cells, and because this antitumor immunity is inhibited by prostaglandin, our hypothesis was that the effect of aspirin was perhaps even greater after someone had suffered from cancer. In other words, that cancer can be prevented from re-occurring in the patient,” said study author Kjetil Taskén, PhD, MD, in a press release. “Moreover, the cost-benefit assessment will completely change because the risk of a relapse is much higher than the risk of initial onset of cancer.”