Aspirin is already proven to help prevent heart attacks and strokes in some people, and research has suggested that it could also prevent some types of cancer including bowel, breast, esophagus, prostate or stomach cancer. Cancer Research UK estimates that 5.5 million people are diagnosed with the five cancers every year worldwide. Britain has launched the world's largest ever clinical trial to investigate whether taking a daily dose of aspirin can stop these five common cancers from recurring.
The Add-Aspirin phase III trial will recruit 11,000 patients who have recently had, or are undergoing, treatment for bowel, breast, esophagus, prostate or stomach cancer. A Cancer Research UK spokeswoman said, "Up to 9,000 patients will be recruited in the UK while another 2,000 will take part in India where the trial is expected to open in 2016. The trial will take place at more than 100 centers across the UK and will run for up to 12 years."
For the study, researchers have assigned a group of patients to take a 300mg daily dose of aspirin, a second group will take 100mg every day and a third group will be given placebo or dummy drugs. Study participants will self-administer tablets over the five-year period and will be actively followed up for another five years.
Dr. Fiona Reddington, Cancer Research UK's head of population research, said, "The trial was potentially game-changing for patients. 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."
Professor Ruth Langley, chief investigator at the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit, said, "The trial had the potential to change the future treatment of common cancers. There's been some interesting research suggesting that aspirin could delay or stop early-stage cancers coming back, but there's been no randomized 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."