Regular Aspirin Use Improves Outcome for Stage III Colon Cancer Patients

Regular Aspirin Use Improves Outcome for Stage III Colon Cancer Patients

A presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology stated that stage III colon cancer patients, who had undergone surgery and chemotherapy, experienced less recurrence and fatalities with regular aspirin use.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colorectal cancer is a malignancy that involves both the large intestines (colon) and a distal portion of the colon known as the rectum. Although there is no single cause of colon cancer, certain factors increase the risk of developing the disease. These factors include colorectal polyps, a family history of colorectal cancer and a history of ulcerative colitis. Diet has long been suspected as a contributing factor to the risk of developing colorectal cancer, however a direct link is presently unclear. Previous research studies have shown that large doses of aspirin can decrease the incidence of colon polyps. Aspirin use may also prevent pre-cancerous lesions. However, to date no studies have determined the effect of aspirin on previously established colon cancers.

In this recent study, researchers took 830 patients with stage III colon cancer from another study evaluating two different chemotherapeutic regimens. It was determined that 8.7 percent of these patients were regular aspirin users. Each patient completed questionnaires regarding medication use and lifestyle during chemotherapy and again six months after treatment was completed. Extensive analysis revealed that 72 of the 830 patients consistently used aspirin during and after treatment. A comparison of this group with non-aspirin users determined that consistent aspirin use was associated with a significant reduction (48 percent) in the risk of disease recurrence and death. It was additionally noted that consistent users of COX-2 inhibitor drugs (Celebrex®, Vioxx®) had similar results, while users of acetaminophen (Tylenol®) did not.

Researchers concluded that consistent aspirin usage may be associated with improved outcomes for patients with stage III colon cancer. Further trials to evaluate the use of COX-2 inhibitor drugs are anticipated, although the recent report of cardiac complications associated with these drugs will need to be addressed.

Reference: Fuchs C, Meyerhardt d, Helseltine K, et al. Influence of regular aspirin use on survival for patients with stage III colon cancer: Finding from Intergroup trial CALGB 89803. American Society of Clinical Oncology 2005; Abstract #3530.

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