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Research Finds Aspirin May Boost Effectiveness of Cancer Immunotherapy Treatment

A new study has suggested aspirin could boost how effectively immunotherapy works in treating patients with cancer.


Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that boosts the body’s natural defences to fight cancer. It is one of the most promising areas in cancer research as some trials have shown how the treatment can shrink terminal cancers and in rare cases, completely eradicate them.

It is not entirely clear how immunotherapy treats cancer but scientists believe the treatment stops or slows the growth of tumours, preventing the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body and helping the immune system destroy cancerous cells.

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute - a biomedical research centre in London - have published research suggesting aspirin may prevent tumours from hiding from the immune system.

The research, which was funded by Cancer Research UK, shows that skin, breast and bowel cancer cells often produce large amounts of Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) – a chemical that dampens the immune system’s response to defective cells thereby enabling tumours to hide.

Aspirin however, has been found to revive the immune system by changing the chemical pathways inside tumours and halting the production of PGE2.

By experimenting on mice, the researchers discovered that combining immunotherapy with aspirin “substantially slowed bowel and melanoma skin cancer growth in mice, compared to immunotherapy alone.”

Although this study adds to the growing evidence that some cancers produce PGE2 as a means of eluding the immune system, and by preventing cancerous cells from producing PGE2 we can expose them to the full power of our natural defences, it is important to stress that the research was carried out on mice and we are still a long way off clinical trials on humans.

Having said that, the findings are extremely exciting as giving patients aspirin in conjunction with immunotherapy could potentially make a huge impact on the benefit they derive from the treatment.

Approximately one in three people are diagnosed with cancer within their lifetime in the UK across more than 200 different cancer types. The sooner cancer is identified and correctly diagnosed the more effective treatment is likely to be.

Unfortunately in many cases, delayed cancer diagnosis results in terminal cancer, which may have been treatable if recognised at an early stage.

Rabia Ibrahim is a Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers can advise on whether you have a claim for delayed diagnosis of cancer. If you or a family member discovered the cancer late on because the symptoms were missed by a medical professional you should arrange a consultation.

Call us on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will advise you on how successful your compensation claim could be.

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