Low-dose aspirin may help people with ovarian cancer live longer

Credit: Hal Gatewood / Unsplash

In a study from QIMR Berghofer, scientists found that low-dose aspirin may improve ovarian cancer survival.

Ovarian cancer can be hard to detect and usually, isn’t discovered until stages three or four, when the five-year survival rate is just 29%. It is Australia’s deadliest gynecological cancer.

Up to 80% of women experience a recurrence of cancer after treatment. However, the QIMR Berghofer study suggested that in those who frequently used NSAIDs, cancer did not come back as quickly.

The study followed more than 900 Australian women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and asked them how often they used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin.

The team found the women who reported taking NSAIDs at least four days a week in the 12 months after diagnosis, lived longer on average than occasional or non-users.

Most of the frequent users were taking daily low-dose aspirin.

They found the difference would translate to an average of an extra 2.5 months’ survival in the five years post-diagnosis. While this might not sound like a lot, it is significant for ovarian cancer.

The disease is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when the prognosis is poor, and treatment options are limited.

These findings suggest that frequent NSAID use might improve survival for women with ovarian cancer, regardless of whether they start taking the drugs before or after diagnosis.

The team says the findings offer hope that low-dose aspirin may help ovarian cancer survival at a population-wide level, while researchers continue to search for better therapies.

However, they also stress that aspirin is not safe for everyone so women should not start taking the drugs without consulting their doctor.

The study is not the first to suggest a link between NSAIDs and ovarian cancer survival.

However, some previous studies may have been affected by methodological problems, which this latest research sought to address.

More than 900 newly diagnosed Australian women signed up for the OPAL study, which aims to deliver advice to future patients on lifestyle changes that can help beat the disease.

If you care about aspirin, please read studies about an aspirin a day linked to higher risk of falls, and people with coronary heart disease need this drug instead of aspirin.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about causes of most major cancers, and results showing scientists find new drug to treat both COVID-19 and cancer.

The study was conducted by Dr. Azam Majidi et al and published in JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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