How is aspirin used to prevent colon cancer?

Updated: Apr 15, 2020
  • Author: Tomislav Dragovich, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: N Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS  more...
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Aspirin use has been shown to be effective in both primary prevention of colorectal cancer (at doses of 300 mg or more daily for about 5 years [146] ) and secondary prevention (at doses ranging from 81 to 325 mg daily [147] ) of colorectal adenomas. The decrease in colon cancer risk with aspirin use may vary among population subgroups. However, body mass index, physical activity, and plasma C-peptide levels were shown to not have a significant impact on aspirin’s effect on colon cancer risk. [148]

Examination of questionnaire data collected from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study showed regular aspirin use was associated with lower risk of BRAF –wild-type colorectal cancer (multivariable hazard ratio [HR], 0.73) but not with BRAF -mutated cancer risk (multivariable HR, 1.03). Status of tumor PTGS2 expression or PIK3CA or KRAS mutation had no effect on this association. [149]

A 2013 study showed that low-dose aspirin taken every other day lowers the risk for colorectal cancer in middle-aged women. Nearly 40,000 women aged 45 and older were randomized to low-dose aspirin (100 mg) or placebo every other day for roughly 10 years; 84% were followed for an additional 7 years after treatment ended. At followup, colorectal cancer risk was lower in the aspirin group, mostly owing to a reduction in proximal colon cancer; this reduction in risk emerged after 10 years. [150]

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