Oct 25, 2015

The World’s Largest Cancer Clinical Trial

The creation of cancer treatment drugs often follows a similar path. Somewhere a researcher or research team independently or as part of a drug company invents a potentially effective drug and a drug company sponsors clinical trials. After many trials at several levels, involving hundreds and maybe thousands of patients, some of the drugs are FDA approved. Conducting clinical trials is expensive and the successful drugs are eventually sold to patients at very high prices. You already know this, of course. But this new clinical trial from the UK has a different twist.

Clinical trials on the cheap
The BBC has reported that Cancer Research UK and NIHR (part of the National Health Service) will be sponsoring a 12-year study of the cancer prevention benefits of ASPIRIN. Yes, common aspirin. It is called the Add-Aspirin Trial

There has been some research to suggest that aspirin can delay or slow the growth of some cancers. This trial will help determine if aspirin can be an effective cancer treatment. A proven inexpensive cancer treatment would be a major benefit to millions. 

11,000 people with early stage cancer—the largest number ever in a clinical trial‑‑will be randomly assigned to one of four groups. One group will take a daily placebo and the other three groups will each take aspirin at a different dosage level. This part of the study will last five years. Participants will be monitored for as long as 12 years. Patients with early stage bowel, breast, prostate, stomach, and esophageal cancers will be included in the study. 

Aspirin is one of the cheapest meds on the market. It was originally developed as a painkiller but is now widely used to help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Maybe there is one more chapter in the aspirin story. 

Aspirin has several documented side effects—as do all drugs‑‑ and would not be appropriate for everyone.

Keep an eye on this study. Not all clinical studies have a good outcome but, if successful, this one could be a ‘game changer.’

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(c) 2012 Tom Beer and Larry Axmaker

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