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Daily aspirin 'can prevent colorectal cancer'

By Lilian Anekwe

A daily dose of aspirin can prevent colorectal cancer in people with an inherited predisposition to the disease, a new trial has shown.

1,000 people with Lynch syndrome in 43 international trial centres, including one in the UK, were randomised to 600mg of aspirin daily and/or a 30mg dose of starch, an anti-intestinal cancer agent.

Patients with Lynch syndrome tend to develop their cancers quickly, but five years after follow up, there have been six colorectal cancers in the aspirin treated group and 16 in the placebo group.

18 cancers of all kinds have been recorded in the aspirin group, compared with 31 in the placebo group.

Lead researcher Professor John Burn, professor of human genetics at Newcastle University, presented his trial results at the European Cancer Organisation Congress in Berlin this week.

He said: ‘Around four years after randomisation, there was a divergence in the incidence of cancers between the aspirin and placebo groups. To date, there have been only six colon cancers in the aspirin group as opposed to 16 who took placebo. There is also a reduction in endometrial cancer.'

‘This is a statistically significant result and we are delighted – all the more so because we stopped giving the aspirin after four years, yet the effect is continuing, and is directly correlated with the duration of aspirin use on the trial.'

Professor Burn added he was planning a dose finding study for people with proven hereditary colorectal cancer and a similar study in the wider population.

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