LONDON, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Studies in the last few years have shown that aspirin may help to prevent cancer or its recurrence. Researchers have now announced a large, long-term study to investigate whether the painkiller's anti-cancer effects are real.
Cancer Research UK and the British National Institute for Health Research are launching the Add-Aspirin Phase III trial with plans to recruit 11,000 patients who have been treated or are being treated for bowel, breast, esophageal, prostate or stomach cancer.
The study could run for as long as 12 years as researchers monitor the effects of daily aspirin use for five years on cancer.
"There's been some interesting research suggesting that aspirin could delay or stop early stage cancers coming back, but there's been no randomized trial to give clear proof," said Dr. Ruth Langley, a professor at University College London, in a press release. "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."
Researchers plan to split participants into three groups: one-third of the participants will receive a 300 mg aspirin tablet each day; one-third will be given 100 mg tablets; and the rest will receive a placebo. Doctors and patients will not be told which of the treatments the participants are given.
The participants will be closely monitored for any effects on their health, most significantly whether their cancer has come back.
"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," Dr. Alistair Ring, a researcher at Royal Marsden NHS Trust who is involved in the study, said in a press release.