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New Study: Aspirin Therapy May Benefit Those with Certain Cancers

According to a report published in the October 25 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, colorectal cancer patients whose tumors carry a specific mutation in a key gene may benefit from aspirin therapy.

In a study written and conducted by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, involving more than 900 colorectal cancer patients, researchers found that those patients whose tumors harbored the gene PIK3CA responded to aspirin therapy. Five years after diagnosis, 97 percent of those patients taking aspirin had survived, in comparison to 74 percent not taking aspirin. Aspirin therapy provided no benefit for those patients whose tumors did not contain a PIK3CA mutation. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute reports that aspirin theory has no impact on patients who lack the gene mutation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. The CDC notes that in 2008, 52,857 people in the United States died because of colorectal cancer.

“Our results suggest that aspirin can be particularly effective in prolonging survival among patients whose colorectal cancer tests positive for a mutation in PIK3CA,” said the study’s senior author, Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health. “For the first time, we have a genetic marker that can help doctors determine which colorectal cancers are likely to respond to a particular therapy.”

Although further study is necessary before the results can be considered definitive, as Dr. Ogino cautions, aspirin has often been prescribed for colorectal cancer patients in spite of the difficulty in predicting which patients it will benefit. The findings of this study provide that information, suggesting that only the 20 percent of all patients whose tumors bear the important PIK3CA mutation will benefit from aspirin therapy…

Read more: National Monitor


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