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Aspirin doubles survival chances of patients with gastro-intestinal cancer

Aspirin doubles survival chances of patients with gastro-intestinal cancer

The results from a Dutch cohort study with 13,715 gastro-intestinal (GI) cancer patients show that the use of aspirin after diagnosis increases the five-year survival rate from 42 to 75 percent. Martine Frouws, research physician at the Leiden University Medical Centre, presented her findings at the European Cancer Congress (ECC) in Vienna on the 28th of September 2015.

This is the first time the assessment of aspirin effects is not limited to colon cancer. “The new aspect of our study is that we combined the data of patients with several types of cancer”, Frouws explains. “Furthermore, we knew exactly what medication each of the enrolled patients was using.” During the statistical analysis, differences in gender, age, stage of disease and treatment were taken into account, resulting in a very precise determination of the link between aspirin use and survival.

The positive influence of aspirin may be due to the blood clotting inhibiting effects of the drug. If tumour cells are no longer able to hide in between the aggregated blood platelets, they are more likely to be recognised by the immune system. This could boost the body’s own cancer-fighting mechanisms and prevent metastasising of cancer.

“This may have a huge impact on the care for cancer patients”, Frouws says. “Aspirin is a cheap drug with few side effects. Physicians may therefore prescribe it to cancer patients without further ado, if the effect is confirmed.” First however, she will analyse which tumour characteristics are associated with a strong aspirin response and what the optimal dose and administration periods are to ensure a targeted approach of the new regime.

Sources: ECC 2015, LUMC

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