ASPIRIN HELPS IN CANCER BATTLES; Trials show everyday pill can be lifesaver.
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ASPIRIN can double the life expectancy of patients with gastrointestinal cancers, a study has found.
Men and women with a range of cancers who took the anti-inflammatory painkiller experienced a "significant" survival benefit compared with those who didn't.
Researchers analysed data from nearly 14,000 patients in Holland.
About 50 per cent regularly took aspirin and those using the drug after their diagnosis were twice as likely to still be alive as non-users.
The impact of aspirin on survival was seen after adjusting for factors such as gender, age, stage of cancer, treatments, and other medical conditions that could have influenced death rates.
Trial co-ordinator Dr Martine Frouws, from Leiden University, presented the findings at the European Cancer Congress in Vienna.
She said: "Given that aspirin is a cheap, offpatent drug with relatively few side-effects, this will have a great impact on healthcare systems as well as patients.
"Now, we'd like to analyse tumour material from these patients to try and discover which ones would benefit from aspirin treatment.
"Through studying the characteristics of tumours in patients where aspirin was beneficial, we should be able to identify patients who could profit from such treatment in the future."
The most common tumour sites for patients in the study were the colon, rectum and oesophagus.
Professor Peter Naredi, scientific co-chair of the Congress, said: "Dr Frouws and colleagues show that in more than 13,000 patients who were diagnosed with a gastrointestinal cancer, aspirin improved survival compared with those who did not use it.
"We have good evidence that the frequent use of aspirin in the population can prevent some cases of bowel cancer.
"With more data to support the beneficial role of aspirin, we must consider whether we should recommend it to a wider public."
A trial is now examining the effect of a daily low dose of 80milligrams of aspirin on the survival of elderly patients with bowel cancer in Holland.