Public Release: 

World's largest clinical trial on aspirin to stop cancer returning launches today

Cancer Research UK

The world's largest ever clinical trial looking at whether taking aspirin every day stops some of the most common cancers coming back, launches across the UK today (Thursday).

The Add-Aspirin phase III trial*, the largest of its kind and funded by Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health Research, 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.

The study will compare two groups of people taking different doses of aspirin** and a group taking placebo (dummy) tablets.

Aspirin is already proven to help prevent heart attacks and strokes in some people, and research has suggested that it could also prevent some types of cancer.

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."

Mother of two Alex King, 51, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2009. She said: "Having cancer was one of the toughest experiences of my life, but thankfully I was one of the lucky ones given the all-clear and I've been free of cancer for five years now. Any opportunity to reduce the chance of cancer coming back is incredibly important so patients can rest more easily, and it's brilliant to see that Cancer Research UK is launching this new trial to see if aspirin can help do this."

Professor Tom Walley, director of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme, said: "We have funded the Add-Aspirin trial because it offers the exciting possibility of improved outcomes for patients, with a simple well tolerated intervention. The NIHR HTA programme prides itself on funding pragmatic clinical trials like this that can lead to tangible benefits to patients and could help fill important knowledge gaps for the NHS."

Dr Fiona Reddington, Cancer Research UK's head of population research, said: "Aspirin's possible effects on cancer are fascinating and we hope this trial will give us a clear answer on whether or not the drug helps stop some cancers coming back.

"This trial is especially exciting as cancers that recur are often harder to treat so finding a cheap and effective way to prevent this is potentially game-changing for patients."

###

For more information about the trial call 0808 800 4040 to speak to Cancer Research UK's information nurses or visit http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk

For media enquiries contact Emily Head in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 6189 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.

Notes to editor:

*For more information about the Add-Aspirin trial please go to: http://www.addaspirintrial.org/, http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/science/research/who-and-what-we-fund/browse-by-location/london/medical-research-council-clinical-trials-unit/grants/ruth-langley-15015-cruk-12-033-add-aspirin-trial--a-phase or http://www.nets.nihr.ac.uk/projects/hta/120138.

**Either 300mg or 100mg of aspirin daily.

About the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL

The MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL is at the forefront of resolving internationally important questions in infectious diseases and cancer, and delivering swifter and more effective translation of scientific research into patient benefits. It does this by carrying out challenging and innovative studies, and developing and implementing methodological advances. It is part of the Institute of Clinical Trials and Methodology at UCL, and is funded by the Medical Research Council.

About the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme

The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme funds research about the effectiveness, costs, and broader impact of health technologies for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS. It is the largest NIHR programme and publishes the results of its research in the Health Technology Assessment journal, with over 1000 issues published to date. The journal's 2014 Impact Factor (5.027) ranked it first out of 89 publications in the Health Care Sciences and Services category. All issues are available for download, free of charge, from the website. The HTA Programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales, and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. http://www.nets.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/hta

About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world's leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
  • Cancer Research UK's pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last forty years.
  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK's ambition is to accelerate progress so that 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years within the next 20 years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit http://www.cancerresearchuk.org.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.