Genes may determine aspirin's effect on advanced colon cancer

October 24, 2012 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter
Genes may determine aspirin's effect on advanced colon cancer
Study finds taking it appears to slow tumor growth in patients with a particular genetic mutation.

(HealthDay)—For patients suffering from advanced colorectal cancer, aspirin may prolong their lives if their tumor has a certain gene mutation, a new study finds.

"Aspirin appears to work to increase survival of colorectal patients if the tumor has PIK3CA mutation, but does not work if the tumor does not have PIK3CA mutation," said lead researcher Dr. Shuji Ogino, an associate professor in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

About 20 percent of have PIK3CA mutations, according to the study.

"PIK3CA can be potentially tested as a predictive for colorectal ," Ogino said.

"Doctors may be able to make a decision to treat or not to treat with aspirin, based on a PIK3CA test result," he added. "So a PIK3CA test can potentially make a difference to patients."

Ogino cautioned, however, that the findings need to be confirmed.

"An independent validation study is needed before PIK3CA testing can be a part of routine clinical work-up," he said.

For the study, which was published in the Oct. 25 issue of the , Ogino's team collected data on more than 900 patients with colorectal cancer who were part of the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

The data included their use of aspirin, and whether they had the PIK3CA .

The researchers found that 97 percent of the patients with the mutation who were taking aspirin were alive five years after being diagnosed, compared with 74 percent of similar patients who weren't taking aspirin.

Aspirin, however, had no effect on prolonging life among patients who didn't have the PIK3CA gene mutation, the study showed.

Earlier research suggested aspirin could block an enzyme that slows in patients with this particular gene mutation, Ogino said, which is why they decided to do the study.

The optimal aspirin dose is unknown, Ogino said. "Baby aspirin may work, but we need more studies about dose," he noted.

Dr. Boris Pasche, director of hematology/oncology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said, "While several new drugs have demonstrated efficacy in metastatic colorectal cancer in the past decade, only one of them (oxaliplatin) has proven useful in warding off tumor recurrence in patients with locally advanced disease.

Aspirin has benefits in preventing colorectal cancer, but its role in the treatment of established colorectal cancer is yet to be defined, he said.

"If validated in additional studies, aspirin could become a new drug to be added to the regimen, which is currently the worldwide standard of care for patients with stage III colorectal cancer," Pasche said. "It would significantly improve the outcome of patients with stage III colorectal cancer that carry mutations of the PIK3CA gene."

For Pasche, who wrote an accompanying journal editorial, the bottom line is, "an old drug may become a 21st century targeted therapy ushering [in] a tangible personalized medicine application in colorectal cancer."

Although the researchers found an association between taking and longer life among colorectal cancer patients, a cause-and-effect relationship was not proven.

Explore further: Should aspirin be used to prevent cancer?

More information: For more information on colon cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.

Related Stories

Should aspirin be used to prevent cancer?

October 1, 2012
Aspirin, the everyday drug taken by countless people around the world to ward off pain and reduce their risk of developing heart disease, may have a new trick up its sleeve –-preventing cancer.

New class of cancer drugs could work in colon cancers with genetic mutation, study finds

April 25, 2011
A class of drugs that shows promise in breast and ovarian cancers with BRCA gene mutations could potentially benefit colorectal cancer patients with a different genetic mutation, a new study from the University of Michigan ...

Recommended for you

Lung cancer triggers pulmonary hypertension

November 17, 2017
Shortness of breath and respiratory distress often increase the suffering of advanced-stage lung cancer patients. These symptoms can be triggered by pulmonary hypertension, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart ...

Researchers discover an Achilles heel in a lethal leukemia

November 16, 2017
Researchers have discovered how a linkage between two proteins in acute myeloid leukemia enables cancer cells to resist chemotherapy and showed that disrupting the linkage could render the cells vulnerable to treatment. St. ...

Computer program finds new uses for old drugs

November 16, 2017
Researchers at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have developed a computer program to find new indications for old drugs. The computer program, called DrugPredict, ...

Pharmacoscopy improves therapy for relapsed blood cancer in a first clinical trial

November 16, 2017
Researchers at CeMM and the Medical University of Vienna presented a preliminary report in The Lancet Hematology on the clinical impact of an integrated ex vivo approach called pharmacoscopy. The procedures measure single-cell ...

Wider sampling of tumor tissues may guide drug choice, improve outcomes

November 15, 2017
A new study focused on describing genetic variations within a primary tumor, differences between the primary and a metastatic branch of that tumor, and additional diversity found in tumor DNA in the blood stream could help ...

A new strategy for prevention of liver cancer development

November 14, 2017
Primary liver cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and its incidences and mortality are increasing rapidly in the United Stated. In late stages of the malignancy, there are no effective ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.