Fighting Oral Cancer...With Aspirin?

Oropharyngeal cancer is the 8th most common type of cancer in the world. It is also one of the fastest growing ones, with the number of patients on the rise from year to year. A recent study suggests that regular intake of aspirin can reduce the chances of contracting this terrible disease by up to a quarter. 

Good News

A large population based randomised study from the US National Cancer Institute called the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, was a study that recently concluded, and involved data from 77 500 men and an 77 500 women from the United States. One of the aims of the study was the examination of the effects of Ibuprofen and Aspirin and their possible risks or advantages in the development of head and neck cancer.

The study found that patients who took aspirin regularly (once a week or more) had a 22% less chance of developing this disease. This is a significant number, and the study might be proof for aspirin’s chemopreventive qualities, according to researchers involved. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, did not show any cancer preventing qualities. 

The Importance Of Prevention

Dr. Nigel Carter OBD, head of the BDHF (British Dental Health Foundation) urges further study on the relationship between aspirin and oropharyngeal cancer. He also stresses the importance of being proactive, and of contacting your doctor if you have bleeding or swelling that does not go down after two to three months, or an ulcer that won’t heal. If found in time, it is quite possible to survive oral cancer, but Dr. Carter warns that the survival rate drops to 50% relatively soon. 

Other studies have also seemed to confirm that aspirin does lower the chances of developing oral cancer. A study of 434 patients from Boston Massachusetts also seems to suggest that taking anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin in particular was helpful in reducing the risk of Brett’s esophagus.

Aspirin is available at any pharmacy over the counter, and does not particularly tax the body. If you smoke or have a history of oropharyngeal cancer in your family, looking into some aspirin or talking about it with your GP may be a good idea.