New trial to save the lives of future cancer patients

The lives of thousands of future cancer patients could be saved thanks to an exciting new aspirin trial which is being carried out in West Norfolk.

Staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are taking part in a national five-year study to see if the regular taking of aspirin could help to prevent certain types of cancer from returning.

For more than 100 years, aspirin has been used to treat minor ailments but doctors are now researching whether it could be an effective tool in the battle against cancer.

With 352,197 new cases being recorded in 2013, cancer is becoming more prevalent and half of those diagnosed survive their condition for 10 years and beyond.

The study, which is sponsored by University College London, is asking patients who have recently undergone treatment to participate for the next five years to see if aspirin delays or prevents the disease from returning.

Since launching in April, staff at the hospital’s Macmillan Cancer Unit along with the Research and Development Team have started to work with 13 patients and hope to sign up many more.

Dr Nicola Ainsworth, the hospital’s principal investigator, said: “It is a very exciting trial to be involved with. If a simple drug can reduce the chances of a cancer returning then this work can have a huge impact on the lives of future patients.”

The trial is focusing on patients who are or have been treated for breast, bowel, prostate, stomach and oesophageal  cancer. Nationally, the study is hoping to recruit a total of 9,920 patients.

For the first eight weeks “run-in” period, the participant takes aspirin every day and if they suffer no side-effects they then move onto the next stage of the randomised controlled trial, where they will be given a set dose of aspirin or placebo every day for 5 years.  Those taking part are expected to visit the hospital 12 times during the trial for check-ups and later sessions will be conducted over the phone.

Senior Research Nurse Corrine Rankin said: “The Research Nurses feel very privileged to be part of a cancer patient’s journey. We are incredibly grateful to our patients for participating in the study and appreciate it is a big commitment. “

Fellow Research Nurse Hayley Webb added: “We are humbled and privileged by our patients. We would like to add that aspirin does have side-effects and we would advise people to take medical advice before taking it on a daily basis.”

The study has been funded by Cancer Research, the UK National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment Programme and MRC CTU with support from Bayer Pharmaceuticals.

Anyone who would be willing to take part in the trial should contact Senior Research Nurse Corrine Rankin on 01553 214567.

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