Wonder Drug for Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer deaths lower in patients taking aspirin daily

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It's one of the most common, widely available and inexpensive drugs on the market. These days aspirin is being studied for its potential power to relieve a great deal more than headaches.

Aspirin is now taking on cancer.

Aspirin may be an appropriate treatment for colon cancer. Researchers are planning to conduct randomized trials after discovering that people with colon cancer lived longer when they began a daily aspirin regimen after diagnosis.

"Ask your doctor if an aspirin regimen is appropriate for you."

Dutch researchers say that aspirin may be particularly helpful for elderly colon cancer patients who aren't well-suited for chemotherapy. Their work was published in the April, 2012 issue of the British Journal of Cancer.

Several years of daily aspirin regimen have been shown in previous studies to lower the risk of developing several types of cancer, including colon and esophageal. This study looked at the therapeutic value of aspirin.

An observational study involving 4,481 patients with colorectal cancer between 1998 and 2007 analyzed the effect of daily aspirin.

Deaths from colon cancer were 23 percent lower in the group of 1,219 patients who took aspirin daily for any length of time, compared to patients who did not take aspirin. For those who took aspirin daily for nine months, mortality was 30 percent lower.

Most of the patients had been prescribed to take 30 mg or 80 mg aspirin a day for its protective effects against cardiovascular disease.

Patients who took aspirin before and after their cancer diagnosis did not benefit as much. Death from the disease was 12 percent lower in these individuals. Researchers say this may be because they may have developed a more aggressive form of the disease that didn't respond well to aspirin therapy.

One of the study authors, Gerritt-Jan Liefers of the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands reports that these findings are similar to study published in 2009 in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

“Our findings could have profound clinical implications. In this study we showed the therapeutic effect of a widely available, familiar drug that costs  mere pennies per day,” Liefers said. “It’s possible that some older people may have other health problems which mean that they are not well enough to have chemotherapy.

Bowel cancer is more common in older people, so these results could be a big advance in treatment of the disease, particularly in this group. But we need further research to confirm this,” Liefers concluded.

The research team has applied for funding to conduct a randomized placebo-controlled trial to study the therapeutic effects of aspirin in individuals over the age of 70 who are not good candidates for chemotherapy following surgery.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 26, 2012
Last Updated:
April 26, 2012