By Ron Howells • 18 August 2021 • 21:47
Aspirin trialled as potential treatment for aggressive breast cancer
Aspirin is being trialled as a potential treatment for aggressive breast cancer.
Aspirin is being trialled as part of a potential treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer. Researchers hope the cheap and widely available drug could work well when combined with immunotherapy for patients with triple-negative breast cancer.
The clinical trial is being funded by the Breast Cancer Now Catalyst Programme, which aims to accelerate progress in world-class breast cancer research through innovation and collaboration.
As part of the Programme, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (makers of the coronavirus vaccine) have provided Breast Cancer Now with sufficient funding through an independent medical research grant, also giving the charity’s researchers access to several Pfizer medicines.
If the trial proves successful, it could pave the way to urgently needed new treatment options for the 8,000 women diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in the UK each year – a less common but often more aggressive type of breast cancer that disproportionately affects younger women and black women.
Reduction in cancer deaths
Adding further weight to the new trial, a recent analysis of existing published studies by Cardiff University found that taking aspirin is linked to a reduction in cancer deaths. The review and analysis of 118 published observational studies in patients with 18 different cancers showed that about 20% more of the patients who took aspirin for other health reasons were likely to be alive compared with those patients not taking aspirin.
The trial, led by Dr Anne Armstrong from The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, is the first clinical study to test if aspirin can make tumours more sensitive to immunotherapy in triple-negative breast cancer patients. Avelumab will be trialled, with and without aspirin, before patients receive surgery and chemotherapy treatment. Samples of patients’ breast cancer tumours will then be evaluated to see if the addition of aspirin can enhance the effects of immunotherapy.
Beth Bramall, from Hampshire, was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer aged 42. Beth, who has been supported by Breast Cancer Now, said:
“Nothing prepares you for being diagnosed with cancer, but the narrative on triple-negative breast cancer is so scary and provides little hope. It can spread undetected on scans and sadly several of the friends I’ve made over the past 18 months have had recurrences and passed away from this disease.
“There’s no easy cancer, but triple-negative is particularly gruelling, with few treatment options and a long and debilitating treatment plan – it floored me with side effects of hair loss, nausea, joint and muscle pain, diarrhoea and constipation, burning palms and feet, migraines, night sweats and fatigue like I’ve never known before.
“I’m blessed that I’ve had a pathological complete response to treatment, but it’s been the hardest 18 months for me and my family, and I have over two more years of treatments and scans ahead.
“It’s really exciting that this research being carried out by the Breast Cancer Now Catalyst Programme could potentially help women diagnosed with secondary triple-negative breast cancer.”
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Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!.
Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.
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