Aspirin might have anticancer activity against rectal cancer during preoperative chemoradiation, a new study published online ahead of print in the British Journal of Cancer has shown.1

Because various studies have suggested a possible adjuvant role of aspirin in colorectal cancer, researchers sought to evaluate the anticancer effect of aspirin use during preoperative chemoradiation for rectal cancer.

Researchers enrolled 241 patients with stage 2-3 rectal cancer who were candidates for chemoradiation. Patients were assigned to 2 groups: patients taking aspirin at the time of diagnosis (group 1) and all others (group 2).

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Results showed that aspirin use was associated with a higher rate of tumor downstaging (P=0.01), good pathological response (P<0.001), and a slightly, non-significant, higher rate of complete pathological response (P=0.196).

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Researchers found that aspirin use was also associated with an improved 5-year progression-free survival (HR = 0.20; 95% CI: 0.07-0.60) and overall survival (HR = 0.21; 95% CI: 0.05,-0.89). Aspirin use was also associated with reduced risk of developing metastasis (HR = 0.30; 95% CI: 0.10-0.86).

“This finding could be clinically relevant and should be further investigated with randomized trials,” the authors concluded.


  1. Restivo A, Cocco IMF, Casula G, et al. Aspirin as a neoadjuvant agent during preoperative chemoradiation for rectal cancer [published online ahead of print September 15, 2015]. B J Cancer. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2015.336.