There is new evidence supporting the use of low-dose aspirin for cancer survival.
The evidence comes from two new retrospective studies. The first involved patients with head and neck cancer. The second focused on patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC is similar to mesothelioma in many ways.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that is often fatal within a year of diagnosis. Based on the new findings, some mesothelioma patients may consider talking to their doctors about aspirin for cancer survival
Anti-Inflammatories and Cancer Treatment
Anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin can cut the risk for heart disease and heart attack. But research led by the Roswell Park Cancer Center shows they may have similar benefits for people with cancers like pleural mesothelioma.
The new studies are among the first to show a link to aspirin for cancer survival for patients with either lung cancer or head and neck cancer. They were presented recently at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.
Radiation, Chemotherapy, and Aspirin for Cancer Survival
In the lung cancer study, 164 patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer had a type of precision radiotherapy called SBRT. Some mesothelioma patients also undergo SBRT. Some of the lung cancer patients took a daily baby aspirin and some did not.
The patients who took aspirin for cancer survival lived nearly five months longer than those who did not. At two years, 57 percent of the aspirin group was still living versus 48 percent of the non-aspirin patients.
“This is an exciting new avenue we are researching in other cancer types and designing new prospective clinical trials for,” says lead researcher Anurag Singh, MD.
The second study focused on 460 patients who had chemotherapy and conventional radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. (This treatment combination is also used for people with pleural mesothelioma.)
In the group that took aspirin for cancer survival, there was an 8 percent survival advantage at 5 years. Patients on aspirin lived longer, even though aspirin did not seem to impact the effectiveness of their cancer treatment.
“These studies provide further support for a growing body of literature that demonstrates a benefit for use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, by cancer patients,” says Gregory Hermann, MD, of Roswell Park. “Although clinical trials are needed to make a definitive recommendation, we encourage patients to have a discussion with their doctor regarding the risks and potential benefits of aspirin use.
There is already some evidence for aspirin use in mesothelioma. A 2015 mesothelioma study showed that aspirin “markedly reduced malignant mesothelioma growth” in mice. The treated mice also lived longer.
About 2,500 Americans receive a mesothelioma diagnosis every year. Most of them have worked in an asbestos industry.
Hermann, G, et al, “Concurrent Aspirin Use Is Associated with a Trend in Improved Overall Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer Patients Undergoing SBRT: A Retrospective Review”, September 15, 2019. ASTRO Presentation, https://eventscribe.com/2019/ASTRO/ajaxcalls/PresentationInfo.asp?efp=TE5aWFlKWEY5MDg1&PresentationID=567107&rnd=0.8335098
Iovoli, AJ, et al, “Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Use Is Associated with Improved Survival in Head and Neck Cancer: A Retrospective Review”, September 16, 2019, ASTRO Presentation, https://eventscribe.com/2019/ASTRO/ajaxcalls/PresentationInfo.asp?efp=TE5aWFlKWEY5MDg1&PresentationID=566626&rnd=0.2370917