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Aspirin In The Fight Against Colorectal Cancer

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 12:08 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Colorectal Cancer, Aspirin, JAMA


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ Diagram of the stomach, colon and rectum/ author: William Crochot

A newly published study finds that taking aspirin regularly may keep colon cancer at bay.

It’s long been known that taking aspirin could reduce the chance of developing tumors of the colon. A new study says that aspirin users had a much better chance of surviving colorectal cancer than non-users after it was diagnosed.

The New York Times reports that patients who used aspirin were one-third less likely to die from the disease. And those who began as aspirin regimen after a diagnosis had half the risk of dying from cancer. The influence of aspirin after a diagnosis had been unknown.

The study, out of Harvard Medical School, followed patients for almost a dozen years. All were being treated for nonmetastatic or localized colon cancers.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this week, and was conducted by Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and involved 1,279 men and women with nonmetastatic colorectal cancer who were part of two large studies that ran through June 2008.

How it works is known. Colon cancer tumors are positive for COX2, an enzyme that flares up in certain circumstances in the colon. Aspirin is a COXs-inhibitor. Those patients whose tumors overexpressed the enzyme were particularly responsive to the aspirin use, reports the Times.

In an editorial accompanying the article, Alfred I. Neugut, M.D., Ph.D., of Columbia University, New York, writes that the results of this study are encouraging.

"In the study by Chan et al, the survival benefits of aspirin were similar in patients who received standard adjuvant chemotherapy and those who did not, and in patients with stage I and stage II disease as well as those who had stage III disease at diagnosis. Thus, aspirin may have the potential to be useful as adjuvant therapy not just for locally advanced disease but for early-stage patients as well. Further studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings, and should also investigate the use of aspirin as an agent in individuals with metastatic disease." #

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