Study reports that 'Aspirin cuts risk of cancer death by 20%'

This headline, recently seen in the news, reports on a new journal publication which looked at a large number of previous studies. The researchers bought together data from studies of people with cancer and looked at whether or not they were taking aspirin (which might have been prescribed for heart disease, for example) and if this made a difference to their cancer recovery. The findings suggested that people with cancer could benefit from taking daily aspirin.

Whilst these findings are encouraging, there are some limitations to the research. The decision about whether or not people took aspirin in these studies was not made at random – there may have been other important differences between the people taking aspirin and the people not taking aspirin which might have affected their cancer recovery. The only way to be sure that aspirin is having a real effect in terms of treating cancer is to do a randomised trial with similar groups of people taking either aspirin or a dummy pill. This allows a fair comparison and means we can rule out effects of other factors and be sure about what benefits are due to aspirin.

The Add-Aspirin trial has been designed in this way, to provide a definitive answer about the benefits of aspirin for people who have had treatment for an early stage cancer. It will also provide data on the risks of taking aspirin for these individuals, which must be balanced against any benefits. The results of this recent study highlight the importance of completing clinical trials such as Add-Aspirin, and - if you are a participant in the Add-Aspirin trial - the importance of continuing to take the trial medication.

We do not believe that this recent data should affect the ongoing Add-Aspirin trial and this is also the view of other experts in this area reacting to the recent publication.

If you are a participant on the Add-Aspirin trial and have questions or concerns about this new data, please discuss these with your study nurse or doctor.

The new research was published in eCancermedicals science here.

A reaction statement by a leading expert in the field can be found here.

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If you are an individual who is interested in taking part in Add-Aspirin, please talk to your doctor who will be able to consider whether you are suitable for the trial.

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From Monday 16th March 2020, to RANDOMISE a participant in the UK please call +44 (0)20 7670 4925, rather than the usual randomisation line.

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