Baby aspirin for colorectal cancer is fine, just see a doctor
Baby aspirin and colorectal cancer
- The United States Preventive Services Task Force will no longer recommend that the general public take baby aspirin to prevent colorectal cancer because the potential risks outweigh the benefits.
- The USPSTF urges people between the ages of 40 and 60 who want to take baby aspirin to simply see their doctor and make the choice that is best for them.
- âWe know that aspirin stops blood cells or platelets from activating and producing an enzyme called thromboxane A2, which causes them to clump together. And tumors can’t attach to these clumps, âDr. Jane Figueiredo told SurvivorNet.
A panel of health experts no longer recommends taking aspirin for colorectal cancer prevention, but experts tell SurvivorNet that an aspirin regimen could be helpful if the pros and cons are weighed against your doctor.
The United States Task Force on Preventive Services (USPSTF) says there is insufficient evidence to show that low-dose aspirin use reduces the incidence or mortality of colorectal cancer. That, combined with the potential side effects some people experience when taking aspirin, led the group to determine that the risks outweighed the benefits. Aspirin can cause life-threatening bleeding in the digestive tract or brain.
In 2016, the panel encouraged doctors to prescribe aspirin for certain patients to prevent cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.
The group’s new guidelines change recommendations for aspirin use and cardiovascular disease. The USPSTF recommends “that the decision to initiate the use of low-dose aspirin for the primary prevention of CVD in adults aged 40 to 59 years who have a 10% risk of CVD or greater over 10 years be an individual decision, and recommends not -use of a dose of aspirin for the primary prevention of CVD in adults aged 60 years or older.
When SurvivorNet contacted the USPSTF, a spokesperson said the group did not have enough research to publish new guidance on colorectal cancer.
The group, however, is not asking individuals to stop taking baby aspirin as a preventive measure, according to the spokesperson. On the contrary, the USPSTF encourages people who hope to start or continue taking baby aspirin to speak with their doctor. This way, a professional familiar with an individual’s medical history can make an informed assessment of whether the benefits outweigh the risks on a case-by-case basis.
Related: Your Parents Over 75 Should Keep Getting Screened For Colorectal Cancer – It Could Save Their Lives
Dr. Jane Figueiredo, director of community and population health research at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, published a study on this topic earlier this year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and told SurvivorNet that the evidence is still strong for the benefits of an aspirin regimen.
âThe working group’s updated analysis suggests a possible reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer with long-term use of aspirin. But the report stresses that there is not enough information yet, âsays Dr Figueiredo. “One of the concerns they highlight is data from a trial that showed a potentially higher risk of death from colorectal cancer in the elderly. We need more data and more discussion before to make final declarations. “
She continues, âThe best approach may be more personalized – anyone who wants to start or stop aspirin should speak with their doctor to assess which is the right choice for them. “
Dr Figueiredo points out that baby aspirin can still cause serious harm even though it is sold over the counter, does not require a prescription, and is not a controlled substance.
âA lot of people start taking aspirin before talking to their doctor. The crucial takeaway from these new guidelines is that before buying drugstore aspirin, people should speak with their doctor to review their options and the risks and benefits of each option, âshe explains.
Turning to his own study published last May, which was funded by the American Cancer Society, Dr Figueiredo says his research has shown that “long-term use of aspirin before a diagnosis of colorectal cancer was associated at a lower risk of specific colorectal cancer. mortality, but not the use of aspirin after diagnosis.
This study also clearly detailed the rewards and risks associated with taking baby aspirin.
âWe found that long-term use of aspirin was associated with a lower risk of having metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis,â notes Dr. Figueiredo. âAt the same time, we know from the USPTF that there is a risk of bleeding with the use of aspirin. When evaluating the potential benefits of using aspirin, this risk should also be taken into account.
In this study, Dr. Figueiredo details how baby aspirin works to prevent cancer from spreading in some people.
âThe underlying mechanisms of aspirin are not fully understood, but studies show that aspirin can inhibit platelet activation,â she explains. âThis means that aspirin can prevent blood cells or platelets from activating and producing an enzyme called thromboxane A2, which causes platelets to clump. Inhibition of platelet activation could be one way in which aspirin plays a role in preventing tumor cell metastasis.
Related: ‘I Went To Hell And Backwards’: Adele Says Reconciling With Her Father During Her Battle With Bowel Cancer Before He Passed Away Gave Her ‘Peace’
Colorectal cancer screening
Baby aspirin may be a decision to make with your doctor, but the USPSTF still urges all eligible Americans to have their annual colonoscopy.
Guidance on this has also changed this year, with revised recommendations released in May.
The USPSTF lowered the age at which it recommended screening to 45 while urging clinicians to offer screening to people aged 76 to 85.
âDiscuss with patients the decision to screen, taking into account the patient’s general health (life expectancy, co-morbidities), screening history and preferences,â the panel said.
The forms of colorectal cancer screening accepted by the USPSTF are:
- High sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood test (HSgFOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) annually
- DNA-FIT stool every 1 to 3 years
- CT colonography every five years
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every ten years + annual FIT
- Colonoscopy screening every 10 years
Dr Heather Yeo explains why colon cancer screening is essential
Facts about colorectal cancer
Symptoms of colon cancer include:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, which lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which might make it look dark brown or black
- Abdominal cramps or pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Lose weight without trying
Since these issues can also be common symptoms of other illnesses and sometimes aren’t always a cause for concern, it’s usually best to see a doctor to be on the safe side.
Related: Colon Cancer Screening Options and Genetics: Debunking with Dr. Heather Yeo
Dr. Heather Yeo, colorectal surgeon at Weill Cornell in New York City and SurvivorNet’s medical advisor previously discussed the top three myths associated with colon cancer and screening.
Myth # 1: Colonoscopies are the only way to find colon cancer.
The verdict: Not true. Although colonoscopies are the best way, there are many other methods, such as stool occult blood tests (which look at a sample of your stool) and fecal immunochemical tests (FIT). “The [tests] have different roles and you should talk to a healthcare professional about what’s best for you, but there are many options, âsays Dr. Yeo.
Myth # 2: Only people with a family history can get colon cancer.
The verdict: Not true. âIn fact, the majority of people with colon cancer don’t have a family history,â says Dr. Yeo. âThe reason I specialize is that if we find patients early, cancers can be prevented. We can have very good survival results, so I tell a lot of my patients. It is important to have a positive view of this.
Myth # 3: Only people with symptoms should be screened.
The verdict: Absoutely not true. âThe guidelines recently changed because colon cancer has increased in people under the age of 50â¦ The American Cancer Society recently recommended that we start screening at the age of 45,â says Dr. Yeo. And that means everyone.
Dr. Heather Yeo Shatters Some Myths About Colon Cancer Screening
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