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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Aspirin has the potential to block tumor growth in certain patients with colorectal cancer, according to an editorial in the Oct. 25, 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine by a University of Alabama at Birmingham oncologist. In a study that appears in the same issue, researchers examined the use of aspirin in the treatment outcomes of patients with colorectal cancer.
Researchers collected experimental data from 964 patients with colorectal cancer, separating them into two groups based on the presence or absence of a mutation within the PIK3CA gene. The authors found that the use of aspirin after diagnosis in patients with the gene mutation was associated with a 46% reduction in overall mortality and an 82% reduction in colorectal cancer-specific mortality. In contrast, aspirin use in patients without the mutation did not affect either overall or colorectal-specific mortality.
“Approximately 17% of patients with colorectal cancer have a tumor that carries a mutated PIK3CA gene,” stated Boris Pasche, director of the UAB Division of Hematology and Oncology. “Hence, more than one in every six patients with locally advanced colorectal cancer may benefit from this therapy," he wrote. “We haven’t reached the point where we can make a big leap and advise patients to take aspirin to prevent cancer recurrence after surgery, but we are accumulating more information that helps us understand the role that aspirin can potentially play in cancer.”