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  1. ITV Report

Aspirin 'can double life expectancy in cancer patients', study says

Credit: PA

Aspirin can double the life expectancy of patients with cancers affecting the gastrointestinal tract, a study has found.

Cancer patients who regularly take aspirin, were found to have a "significant survival benefit" compared with those who do not, in a major study analysing data from nearly 14,000 patients.

Researchers from the Netherlands found that over a typical follow-up period of four years, those using the drug after their diagnosis were twice as likely to still be alive as non-users.

Dr Martine Frouws from Leiden University, who coordinated the trial, says the findings would help medical professional identify patients who would benefit from the drug.

Through studying the characteristics of tumours in patients where aspirin was beneficial, we should be able to identify patients who could profit from such treatment in the future.

Given that aspirin is a cheap, off-patent drug with relatively few side-effects, this will have a great impact on healthcare systems as well as patients.

– Dr Martine Frouws

The most common tumour sites for patients in the study were the colon, rectum and oesophagus.

A new randomised controlled trial is currently investigating the effect of a daily low dose of 80 milligrams of aspirin on the survival of elderly patients with bowel cancer in the Netherlands.

It is hoped that this trial would further provide "convincing proof" that more patients can benefit from aspirin treatment.

Professor Peter Naredi, scientific co-chair of the Congress, said:

We have good evidence that the frequent use of aspirin in the population can prevent some cases of colorectal (bowel) cancer.

With more and more data to support the beneficial role of aspirin, we must consider whether we should recommend it to a wider public.

– Profeesor Peter Naredi

The findings were presented at the 2015 European Cancer Congress in Vienna.