ASCO Annual Meeting

ASCO Annual Meeting

Issue: July 25, 2018
Perspective from John C. Lipham, MD
Perspective from Manish Shah, MD
June 05, 2018
4 min read

Antacid, aspirin combination slows disease progression in Barrett’s esophagus

Issue: July 25, 2018
Perspective from John C. Lipham, MD
Perspective from Manish Shah, MD
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Janusz Jankowski

CHICAGO — High-dose proton pump inhibitors in combination with low-dose aspirin may prevent the development of esophageal cancer among patients with Barrett’s esophagus, according to findings from the AspECT trial presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.

People with Barrett's esophagus — which occurs among about 2% of adults in Western countries, although incidence may be underreported — are more likely to develop adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, although the risk for developing esophageal cancer is relatively low. Still, 80% to 90% of cases of esophageal cancer are preceded by Barrett’s esophagus.

“More than 52,000 cases of esophageal adenocarcinoma occur each year, with 5-year survival less than 10%,” Janusz Jankowski, MD, PhD, deputy vice chancellor of Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and a consultant clinical adviser for the National Institutes for Health and Care Excellence in the U.K., said during a press conference. “The increasing incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma is probably related to the rise in gastro-esophageal reflux, Barrett’s esophagus and the associated inflammation. Proton pump inhibitors reduce acid reflux and aspirin reduces inflammation — both may have chemo-preventative properties.”

Researchers of the AspECT trial evaluated the efficacy of the proton pump inhibitor esomeprazole plus aspirin for the prevention of esophageal adenocarcinoma among 2,563 patients with Barrett’s esophagus.

Researchers randomly assigned patients in a 1:1:1:1 fashion to 40 mg esomeprazole twice daily (high dose), 40 mg esomeprazole twice daily plus 300 mg aspirin daily, 20 mg esomeprazole once daily (low dose), or 20 mg esomeprazole once daily plus 300 mg aspirin daily.

Time to death from any cause and esophageal cancer or high-grade dysplasia diagnosis served as the study’s composite primary outcome.

At a median follow-up of 8.9 years, researchers observed a statistically significant delay in time to the composite endpoint with high-dose esomeprazole vs. low-dose esomeprazole (time ratio [TR] = 1.27; 95% CI, 1.01-1.58).

The combination of low-dose aspirin plus high-dose esomeprazole demonstrated the strongest delay of disease progression compared with low-dose esomeprazole alone (TR = 1.59; 95% CI, 1.14-2.23).

Researchers observed a trend with aspirin vs. no aspirin, but it did not reach statistical significance (TR = 1.24; 95% CI, 0.98-1.57).

Overall, the researchers estimated these interventions prevented 20% to 25% of esophageal cancers and delayed diagnosis of esophageal cancer by 1 to 2 years among those ultimately diagnosed.

Also, taking the medicines for at least 7.5 years had the greatest effect, whereas treatment for less than 4 years had no effect.


Serious adverse events occurred among 1% of patients.

“Although this was the largest chemoprevention randomized controlled trial in Barrett’s esophagus and with the longest follow-up, more research is needed,” Jankowski said. “The research was conducted in only five countries with mostly white populations, so it is not known if this chemoprevention strategy would be as effective in black and Asian people, as genetic ancestry can affect treatment efficacy.” – by Jennifer Southall


Jankowski J, et al. LBA4008. Presented at: ASCO Annual Meeting; June 1-5, 2018; Chicago.

Disclosures: The study was funded by the Cancer Research UK. Jankowski reports honoraria from and speaking roles with Teueda, as well as research funding from AstraZeneca. Please see the abstract for all other author’s relevant financial disclosures.