What you need to know:
- The researchers said they arrived at this conclusion after analysing 18 published observational studies in patients with 18 different cancers.
Researchers have revealed that aspirin, a common pain killer, increases cancer survival rates in patients because of its anti-tumour effects.
According to a 2021 report by United Kingdom’s Cardiff University, there is “a 20 percent reduction in mortality in patients with cancer who take aspirin.”
The researchers said they arrived at this conclusion after analysing 18 published observational studies in patients with 18 different cancers.
However, more studies are still being carried out on the medicine.
“And the benefit appears not to be restricted to one or a few cancers. Aspirin, therefore, appears to deserve serious consideration as an adjuvant treatment of cancer, and patients with cancer, and their carers, have a right to be informed of the available evidence,” the researchers said.
Asked whether Uganda is considering the use of aspirin in cancer care, Dr Nixon Niyonzima, the head of research and training at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), said he cannot comment on the issue because he has not yet seen the report.
“We have not yet done a related study in Uganda,” he said.
The development comes amid concerns around the safety of the medicine. Aspirin use can result in serious side effects such as stomach bleeding, bleeding in the brain, and kidney failure, according to the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But cancer specialists say some of the approved treatments for cancer have some serious side effects such as the risk of developing another type of cancer due to exposure to radiation.
According to a 2022 report by Adam Gondos and colleagues from Uganda, “five-year relative survival was as low as 8.3 percent for colorectal cancer and 17.7 percent for cervical cancer in Uganda, compared with 54.2 and 63.9 percent, respectively, for black American patients.”
However, Dr Noleb Mugisha, the head of cancer prevention at the UCI said the mortality rates are high because many people come late for treatment.
“When you do regular screening, you can be able to detect this cancer early, provide treatment early and therefore improve outcomes or help these patients with these cancers be able to survive for a long time,” he said.
He added: “To make sure there is early detection, we are doing cancer awareness, cancer screening services from Monday to Friday at the UCI. We also do community outreaches. Cancer is one of the curable diseases. It is not a death sentence; if you detect it early and treat it, many patients recover and survive cancer.”