Friday, October 26, 2012

Colorectal Cancer Patients Might Benefit From Asprin

Annals of Medicine

Some colorectal cancer patients, those whose tumors have been identified with a mutation in the gene PIK3CA, can increase their rates of survival by taking Aspirin, an article in the Harvard Gazette says. The article adds that Aspirin "has no effect on patients who lack the mutation, Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists report in the Oct. 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine":
In a study involving more than 900 patients with colorectal cancer, the researchers found that, for patients whose tumors harbored a mutation in the gene PIK3CA, aspirin use produced a sharp jump in survival: five years after diagnosis, 97 percent of those taking aspirin were still alive, compared with 74 percent of those not using aspirin. By contrast, aspirin had no impact on five-year survival rates among patients without a PIK3CA mutation.
“Our results suggest that aspirin can be particularly effective in prolonging survival among patients whose colorectal cancer tests positive for a mutation in PIK3CA,” said the study’s senior author, Shuji Ogino of Dana-Farber, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). “For the first time, we have a genetic marker that can help doctors determine which colorectal cancers are likely to respond to a particular therapy.” He cautions that the results need to be replicated by other researchers before they can be considered definitive.
While aspirin is often prescribed for colorectal cancer patients, doctors haven’t been able to predict which patients will actually benefit from the treatment. The new finding suggests that the survival benefit is limited to the 20 percent whose tumors have the PIK3CA mutation.
While this might not be the "cure" that humanity is seeking, it is a good finding, and shows that research is making significant headway in finding a cure for cancer. It is the combination of steps like this one, rather than a giant leap, that might lead to cancer not becoming the threat it now poses. It is research, which leads to further research and conclusive findings, that will eventually defeat cancer.

As the article notes, "The study was prompted by previous research that suggested that aspirin blocks an enzyme called PTGS2 (cyclooxygenase-2), causing a slowdown in the signaling activity of another enzyme, PI3K. That led researchers to hypothesize that aspirin could be especially effective against colorectal cancers in which the PIK3CA gene is mutated."

You can read the rest of the article at [Harvard Gazette]

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