© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
June 16, 2005In a new study of people with stage III colon cancer, doctors from the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) research group found that taking aspirin regularly lowered the risk of recurrence (return of the cancer) and death by approximately 50%.Although this study was primarily designed for another purpose, it also showed that aspirin helps people who have already been diagnosed with colon cancer.In this study, 830 people being treated with chemotherapy after surgery for stage III colon cancer completed surveys about their use of aspirin midway through treatment and six months after treatment. Regular aspirin use was reported by 8.7% of the patients. After nearly two and a half years, the risk of recurrence was 55% lower and the risk of death was 48% lower in people who took aspirin.In addition, 4.3% of the patients were taking cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors, such as celecoxib (Celebrex) and rofecoxib (Vioxx). Taking either drug lowered the risk of recurrence by 44%. There was no benefit seen with acetaminophen (Tylenol), another anti-inflammatory drug.What this means for survivors"While aspirin appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, it is too early to tell people with colorectal cancer to start taking aspirin regularly for the purpose of reducing the risk of their cancer returning," said Charles Fuchs, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and the study's lead author. "More studies are clearly needed to confirm our findings." Regular aspirin use can have serious side effects, so people with colorectal cancer should talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits of taking aspirin or COX-2 medications to reduce their risk of cancer recurrence.