Aspirin 'can double life expectancy' of some cancer sufferers, say scientists
Aspirin can double the life expectancy of patients with some of the most common cancers, a study has found.
Men and women with a range of cancers who took the anti-inflammatory pain killer experienced a "significant" survival benefit compared with those who did not.
Researchers analysed data from nearly 14,000 patients in the Netherlands, around half of whom were in the habit of taking aspirin.
Over a four-year follow-up period, those using the drug after diagnosis were twice as likely to be alive.Overall, across all types of cancers studied, 28pc of patients survived at least five years. Those who were using aspirin were twice as likely to be alive. Types of disease included in the major study included bowel cancer, the third most common cancer in the UK, with 41,000 diagnoses a year, as well as cancer of the oesophagus.
The impact of aspirin on survival was seen after adjusting for factors such as gender, age, stage of cancer, treatments and other medical conditions that could have influenced death rates.
Trial co-ordinator Dr Martine Frouws, from Leiden University in the Netherlands - who presented the findings at the 2015 European Cancer Congress in Vienna - said: "Now we would like to analyse tumour material from these patients to try and discover which ones would benefit from aspirin treatment.
"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."
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. (© Daily Telegraph, London)