A study led by researchers at Dana-Farber found that Acetylsalicylic acid ( Aspirin ) has a potential treatment benefit in people who have colon cancer. The patients who took Aspirin regularly have a decreased risk of disease recurrence and death by half compared to non-users, after surgery.
Previous studies have shown that Aspirin provides a preventative benefit by lowering the risk of developing colon cancer and intestinal polyps; the new study is the largest to demonstrate that Aspirin had a potential treatment benefit in people who have been diagnosed with colon cancer.
" Our data are intriguing because they showed that aspirin use notably reduced the risk of recurrence in patients with advanced colon cancer, but more research is needed before any treatment recommendations can be made about the regular use of Aspirin," says Charles Fuchs, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
The findings emerged from a prospective study of 846 patients who were enrolled in a randomized trial of two chemotherapy regimens following surgery for colon cancer.
All patients had stage III disease that had spread to lymph nodes but not elsewhere in the body.
The researchers interviewed the patients about medication use and lifestyle midway through their chemotherapy, and again six months after therapy was completed.
Regular Aspirin use was reported by 75 patients ( 8.9 percent ) in doses of 81 mg ( "baby" Aspirin ) to 325 mg per day.
A total of 41 patients ( 4.7 percent ) reported using COX-2 inhibitor anti-inflammatory agents, Celebrex ( Celecoxib ) or Vioxx ( Rofecoxib ).
The researchers found, based on an average follow up of 2.7 years after the second interview, that regular Aspirin users had a 55 percent lower risk of colon cancer recurrence and a 48 percent lower risk of death compared to non-users.
The benefit of Aspirin was independent of the dose, as long as the patient consistently took the painkiller throughout the follow-up period.
Those who took Celebrex or Vioxx had a 53 percent reduction in recurrence risk.
The researchers also assessed the study participants' use of Acetaminophen to determine whether the benefits attributed to regular Aspirin and COX-2 inhibitors had a non-specific analgesic effect and found no recurrence or survival benefit.
Source: 41st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology ( ASCO ), 2005