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Add-Aspirin cancer trial launches

23 October 2015

The world’s largest ever clinical trial looking at whether taking aspirin every day stops some of the most common cancers coming back, is launching across the UK.

The Add-Aspirin trial aims to find out if taking aspirin every day for five years can stop or delay cancers that have been caught and treated at an early stage from returning. It will also study how the drug might do this.

The study will recruit 11,000 patients who have recently had, or are having, treatment for bowel, breast, oesophagus (food pipe), prostate or stomach cancer. It will be open at more than 100 centres across the UK and will run for up to 12 years.   

Patients who take part in the trial will be randomly assigned  to receive either aspirin or a placebo, which they will take once a day for up to five years.  All participants have two out of three chance of receiving aspirin.  Some participants will receive 300mg of aspirin, whereas others will receive 100mg, to allow researchers to investigate how much aspirin (if any) is needed to have an effect against cancer.

Add-Aspirin will take place at over 100 hospitals across the UK, and will also recruit patients at sites in India.  The trial will run for up to 12 years in total. 

Previous studies have shown that aspirin can help prevent heart attacks and strokes in some patients.  In these studies, aspirin also appeared to reduce the number of people who developed cancer, and to make cancer that did develop less likely to spread.  However, we do not yet have any reliable evidence to prove this. 

Professor Ruth Langley, chief investigator from the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, said: “There’s been some interesting research suggesting that aspirin could delay or stop early stage cancers coming back, but there’s been no randomised trial to give clear proof. This trial aims to answer this question once and for all. If we find that aspirin does stop these cancers returning, it could change future treatment – providing a cheap and simple way to help stop cancer coming back and helping more people survive.

“But, unless you are on the trial, it’s important not to start taking aspirin until we have the full results as aspirin isn’t suitable for everyone, and it can have serious side effects. Please speak to your oncologist or research nurse if you would like to join the Add-Aspirin trial.”

The Add-Aspirin trial is being run by researchers based at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, with funding from the National Institute for Health Research and Cancer Research UK.