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Aspirin trialled to see if it prevents cancer recurrence

UK based study a potential ‘game changer’

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The world’s largest clinical trial looking at whether a daily dose of aspirin prevents the return of cancer, launched today in the UK.

The Add-Aspirin phase III trial, the largest of its kind, funded by Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health Research, aims to find out if taking aspirin every day for five years can stop or delay cancers that have been treated at an early stage from returning. It will also study how the drug might do this.

The study will recruit 11,000 patients who have recently had, or are having, treatment for bowel, breast, oesophagus, prostate or stomach cancer. It will be open at more than 100 centres across the UK and will run for up to 12 years.

The study will compare two groups of people taking different doses of aspirin and a group taking placebo tablets.

Professor Ruth Langley, chief investigator from the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at University College London, said: “There’s been some interesting research suggesting that aspirin could delay or stop early stage cancers coming back, but there’s been no randomised trial to give clear proof. This trial aims to answer this question once and for all. If we find that aspirin does stop these cancers returning, it could change future treatment – providing a cheap and simple way to help stop cancer coming back and helping more people survive.”

Commenting, Professor Tom Walley, director of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme, said: “We have funded the Add-Aspirin trial because it offers the exciting possibility of improved outcomes for patients, with a simple well tolerated intervention. The NIHR HTA programme prides itself on funding pragmatic clinical trials like this that can lead to tangible benefits to patients and could help fill important knowledge gaps for the NHS.”

Dr Fiona Reddington, Cancer Research UK’s head of population research, said: “Aspirin’s possible effects on cancer are fascinating and we hope this trial will give us a clear answer on whether or not the drug helps stop some cancers coming back.

“This trial is especially exciting as cancers that recur are often harder to treat so finding a cheap and effective way to prevent this is potentially game-changing for patients.”

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