Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle
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ASTRO 2019: Can Taking Aspiring During Chemoradiotherapy Improve Outcomes in Head/Neck Cancer?

By: Joseph Fanelli
Posted: Tuesday, October 1, 2019

According to findings presented at the 2019 American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Annual Meeting in Chicago (Abstract MO_33_2965), patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma may reap improved survival advantages from taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) during chemoradiotherapy. Evidence suggests that drugs such as aspirin may positively impact the effectiveness of cancer treatment and thus should be considered by both patients and physicians, concluded Anurag K. Singh, MD, of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, and colleagues.

“This has already changed my practice,” observed Dr. Singh in a Roswell Park press release. “We have now started to give all of our roughly 1,000 follow-up head-and-neck cancer patients this information and started to encourage them to have a discussion with their doctors about starting aspirin daily, as long as they are not on blood thinners. This is an exciting new avenue we are researching in other cancer types and designing new prospective clinical trials for.”

In this study, the investigators abstracted data from patients who were treated for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma with definitive chemoradiotherapy. Of the 460 patients selected, 201 (44%) were taking NSAIDs during treatment.

After univariate analysis, taking NSAIDs seemed to be associated with better overall survival (0.015). Clinical T stage (0.006), overall clinical stage (0.022), current or former smoking status (< 0.001), and oral cavity primary (0.02) were all associated with worse overall survival for patients than taking aspirin.

Taking aspirin was also correlated with significantly better overall survival at 5 and 10 years after treatment (64% and 56%, respectively) than not taking aspirin (38% and 30%, respectively). Of note, the investigators added, these drugs did not result in better response to treatment or distant failure (P = .59), but there was a trend toward less local failure with use of NSAIDs (P = .08).

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at redjournal.org.

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