ASCO Annual Meeting

ASCO Annual Meeting

Perspective from Andrew Chan, MD, MPH
Perspective from Marwan Fakih, MD
June 01, 2015
4 min read

Aspirin provides survival benefit as secondary preventative measure in colorectal cancer

Perspective from Andrew Chan, MD, MPH
Perspective from Marwan Fakih, MD
You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

CHICAGO – Aspirin exposure after a colorectal cancer diagnosis improved OS and colorectal cancer-specific survival, according to study results presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.

Regular aspirin use has been associated with a reduced incidence of colorectal cancer as well as reduced colorectal cancer mortality; however, using aspirin as a primary preventative agent remains debatable because of the serious risk for hemorrhage, according to study background.

Simer Bains, MD, a doctoral fellow at the center for molecular medicine at the University of Oslo, in Norway, and colleagues hypothesized that aspirin use as a secondary preventative measure for colorectal cancer may improve the risk–benefit profile. Researchers conducted this observational, population-based, retrospective study to examine the association between aspirin use after colorectal cancer diagnosis and OS and colorectal cancer-specific survival in a large cohort of patients.

“There were nine studies before ours looking at the same objective, and all except one showed that aspirin has a good effect,” Bains told HemOnc Today. “But the thing is these are all observational studies. So is ours, but what puts this study apart from the others is the size of the study population, that the population is unselected and the quality of the data material.”

Bains and colleagues used the Cancer Registry of Norway to identify 25,644 patients with colorectal cancer, 6,109 of whom were exposed to aspirin — defined as being prescribed aspirin for more than 6 months after colorectal cancer diagnosis — between 2004 and 2011.

The median follow up was 2.5 years.

Overall, 34.2% (n = 2,088) of the aspirin-exposed patients died, 56.1% of whom (19.2% of the total population) died from colorectal cancer.

Comparatively, 38.9% of patients with colorectal cancer who were not exposed to aspirin died, of which 83.7% (33.5% of the total population) were colorectal cancer-specific.

Results of a multivariable analysis indicated aspirin exposure post-diagnosis independently improved OS (HR = 0.86; 95% CI, 0.81-0.91) and colorectal cancer-specific survival (HR = 0.75; 95% CI, 0.70-0.81).  

“The nature of these data is observational and retrospective,” Bains said. “It’s not randomized data, so, I’m still a little reluctant to advise my patients to use aspirin. But, you can make individual assessments with the patients because if they have, say, an increased risk for cardiovascular disease like hypertension, you can say they have two indications to use aspirin. Maybe it would set the bar a bit lower, but it’s important to remember the risk–benefit assessment because giving patients aspirin increases the risk for cerebral bleeding or gastric bleeding, so you have to weigh that against each other.”

Bains said there are three randomized controlled studies evaluating aspirin and that the results of those studies will help determine the overall benefit of aspirin in colorectal cancer.

“Our studies give a prospective indication of reality, but we still need to figure out which patients aspirin benefits the most,” Bains said. “It may be that not all patients should have aspirin. Can we find some biomarkers that are predictive? That should be our next step. We almost certainly know now that it has an effect, but we have not looked at entire populations. We have to stratify them to see if it’s useful for some patients and not all of them.” – by Anthony SanFilippo

Reference: Bains S, et al. Abstract 3504. Presented at: ASCO Annual Meeting; May 29-June 2, 2015; Chicago.

For more information: Simer Bains, MD, can be reached at

Disclosure: Bains reports no relevant financial disclosures. One researcher reports consultant/advisory and leadership roles with PCI Biotech and Pfizer, stock ownership in LAURAS Immuno AS, and having provided expert testimony for Gilead Sciences.