Conference reviews recent evidence that links aspirin use with reduced risk of several cancers

Recent evidence linking aspirin use with a reduced risk of several cancers could change the risk benefits analysis in favour of wider use of aspirin, concluded a meeting organized by the Aspirin Foundation. The report of the meeting "Aspirin, Salicylates and Cancer", held November 2011 at the Royal Society of Medicine, has just been published in ecancermedicalscience. 

In the report Gareth Morgan, from Older People's Services, NHS Wales, outlined the current evidence on aspirin and cancer prevention;  while Peter Rothwell, from Oxford University, explored the effects of aspirin on colon cancer risk; and Sir John Burn, from Newcastle University, looked at aspirin in the prevention and treatment of hereditary colorectal cancer.

Based its safety profile aspirin is the chemoprevention agent of choice in colorectal cancer, said Dion Morton from the University of Birmingham. The fact that aspirin reduces the risk of colorectal cancer with a latency of 10 years indicates that adenoma prevention, rather than down-staging cancer or preventing progression is probably the mechanism involved. He proposed a trial in which patients with high risk adenoma should be randomised to adjunctive treatment with aspirin or placebo.

Jack Cuzick, from Cancer Research UK, said that the cost of Phase II studies for early validation of the role of aspirin in cancer prevention could be minimised by the use of biomarkers and precursor lesions as end points.

Gordon McVie, from the European Institute of Oncology, Italy, said that several issues remain unresolved including the dose-response relationship in the prevention of colorectal cancer and the effect of enteric coating. The combinations of aspirin with other treatments, he added, was an avenue worth exploring in clinical trials.

Concluding the conference chairman, Peter Elwood, from the University of Cardiff, said that evidence of the risks and benefits of taking aspirin should be presented to the public in a package of measures to preserve health to allow them to make informed choices.


Aspirin Foundation


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