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Take Two Aspirin and Call…

Colorectal cancer patients with a certain mutation who took aspirin regularly had longer survival than patients without the mutation, reports a recent New England Journal of Medicine paper.

Researchers led by Shuji Ogino at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School drew on two nationwide studies to determine how aspirin use affected survival in patients with mutated PIK3CA colorectal cancer, and found that 97 percent of patients with mutated-PIK3CA tumors who took aspirin were still alive after five years as compared to 74 percent of patients with the mutation who did not take aspirin.

"This study suggests that regular use of aspirin after the diagnosis of colorectal cancer is significantly associated with increased survival among patients with mutated-PIK3CA tumors but not among patients with wild-type PIK3CA tumors. This relationship appeared to be independent of aspirin use before diagnosis," Ogino and colleagues write. "PIK3CA mutation may serve as a tumor biomarker that predicts the response to the initiation of aspirin therapy in patients with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer."

At the NIH Director's Blog, Francis Collins notes that this indicates a possible personalized medicine role for aspirin. "If these results are replicated, doctors might use the presence of the PIK3CA mutation in colon cancer tissue as a screening tool or biomarker to identify patients who would benefit from aspirin in addition to surgery or other therapies," Collins writes.

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