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Aspirin May Increase Survival Time for Patients With Head/Neck, Lung Cancers

Bleeding Risk Means Patients Should Consult With Physician Before Taking Aspirin

Two new studies show that low-dose aspirin may improve survival odds for patients with head/neck and lung cancer, according to HealthDay News.

The studies, both led by Anurag Singh, MD, professor of oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, were presented at the September annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology in Chicago. 

In the first study, Dr. Singh examined data from 460 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) or early stage, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Dr. Singh found that taking an NSAID,  like low-dose aspirin, in conjunction with standard radiation therapy or chemotherapy, increased the five-year survival rate by 8%.

“We were especially interested to see that these patients lived longer even though the anti-inflammatory drugs did not seem to have an impact on the effectiveness of cancer treatment,” said, Austin Iovoli, M.D., a resident at Roswell Park’s Department of Supportive Care and co-author of the first study.

The second study focused on 164 patients who underwent a precise, high-dose form of radiation for NSCLC. The result showed that 57% of the patients who also took aspirin reached the two-year survival mark compared to 48% of others.

The studies, said Gregory Hermann, MD, a resident physician at Roswell Park, and part of the second study, provide further support for a growing body of literature that show cancer patients can benefit from using non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin.

“Although clinical trials are needed to make a definitive recommendation,” Dr. Hermann said, “we encourage patients to have a discussion with their doctor regarding the risks and potential benefits of aspirin use.”

Past studies have shown some evidence that aspirin may help prevent some cancers and lower the risk of it spreading, according to Cancer Research UK, a cancer research and awareness charity in the United Kingdom. In 2014 scientist published an analysis of previous studies that showed aspirin can lower the risk of developing bowel, stomach, and oesophageal cancers. It can also lower the risk of lung, prostate, and breast cancers, but not as much as the other cancers.

Because aspirin can cause serious side effects including internal bleeding, Cancer Research UK warns that no one, particularly people with cancer, should start taking aspirin without consulting their doctor.

Source: HealthDay, September 23, 2019

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