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Aspirin could benefit the treatment of aggressive breast cancer

Aspirin could benefit the treatment of aggressive breast cancer

A recent study suggests that aspirin may benefit in fighting aggressive types of breast cancer. According to the doctors, it helps anticancer drugs make more responsive to the hard-to-treat malignant tumor. In addition, they find some evidence of the synergistic property of aspirin during the immunotherapy of women with triple-positive breast cancers. 

This finding has already been confirmed on the in vivo animal model that showed some encouraging results. After the in vivo study, they will start a clinical trial with the patient with the most aggressive breast cancer subtype. A team of doctors has been formed at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester for this purpose.

Aspirin might have a synergistic effect with some cancer therapies

According to an estimation, UK diagnosed nearly 8,000 women with triple-negative breast cancer every year. It is a more aggressive but less common subtype of breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer is more ideally to affect younger women and black women than older and white. 

As these cancer does not have any types of receptor, such as growth factor receptor and hormone receptors that other breast cancers have, it is hard to target them. Thus, they are called more aggressive types of breast cancer. Consequently, specific targeted therapy treatments, such as Herceptin and trastuzumab, do not work on them. Instead, these treatments only efficiently work with growth factor receptor-positive types of breast cancer. Thus doctors treat aggressive breast cancer using other medicines or treatments options.

UK doctors found some positive effects of aspirin on patients having triple-negative types of breast cancer. Instead of the analgesic effect, they suspected aspirin’s anti-inflammatory activity that helps boost the impact of cancer therapy drugs. Consequently, they hypnotized that aspirin might also help to prevent some other types of invasive cancers. Therefore, it can lower the risk of cancer invasion to the other part of the body. However, at this time, it is tough to recommend people to take aspirin along with the immunotherapy drugs because more research is needed to see the synergistic effects of aspirin with these drugs.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a complex disease involving the origination of malignant cells in the epithelial cells of milk ducts in the breast. It may be invasive, metastasis, or both.

Invasive cancers cause damages to the surrounding healthy tissue. On the other hand, metastasis cancer spread cancer cells to the other part of the body through the lymph nodes.

Types of breast cancers: 

Based on the receptor status, there are four subtypes of breast cancer. 

1. Luminal A or HR-positive/HER2-negative

It is the most common subtype of breast cancer, having overexpressed or amplified hormones receptors on the cancer cells surface, such as progesterone and estrogen. However, it does not have an overexpressed growth factor receptor (HER).

2. Luminal B or HR-positive/HER2-positive or triple positive

This subtype of breast cancer has overexpressed or amplified hormones receptors, such as progesterone and estrogen, and human epithelial growth factor receptors (such as members of HER family receptors) on the cancer cells’ surface. 

3. HER2 positive breast cancer

This subtype of breast cancer has an overexpressed or amplified human epithelial growth factor receptor (such as members of HER family receptors). However, it does not have overexpressed progesterone and estrogen receptors (ER/PR).

4. Triple-negative or HR/HER2-negative

This breast cancer subtype does not have any overexpressed or amplified receptors, such as hormones or human epithelial growth factor receptors on the cancer cell’s surface. As a result, it is a less common but more aggressive breast cancer subtype.

Risk factors of breast cancer:

  1. Age
  2. Alcohol drinking
  3. Cancer-Causing Substances
  4. Chronic Inflammation
  5. Unhealthy diet
  6. Hormones
  7. Genetic mutation
  8. Genetic inheritance
  9. Immunosuppression
  10. Infectious Agents
  11. Obesity
  12. Exposure with Radiation
  13. Sunlight
  14. Smoking

Treatment options for breast cancers:

Currently, several effective treatment options are available, which are as follows:

1. Chemotherapy 

In this treatment option, health experts use a combination of drugs that either inhibit the growth of cancer cells or destroy them.

There is some important factor that has to take into account before using this option. These factors are as follows: 

  1. Tumor size
  2. Tumor type
  3. Type of receptors
  4. Tumor grade
  5. Receptor status
  6. Number of lymph nodes involved in cancer and their degree of involvement
  7. The risk for cancer spreading to the other parts of the body

2. Radiotherapy

Radiation therapy or radiotherapy is another treatment option that uses to apply high-energy rays to the affected area. As a subsequence, it only affects the cells treated area. For instance, breast cancer radiotherapy often performs after the surgery to destroy the armpit area in the breast or remaining mutated cancer cells.

3. Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy treats the hormone receptor-positive type of breast cancer, such as estrogen/progesterone receptors positive breast cancers and triple-positive breast cancers. These drugs help destroy breast cancer cells by inhibiting or blocking the supply of hormones, such as hormones blockers or inhibitors. 

  1. Fulvestrant (Faslodex)
  2. Goserelin (Zoladex)
  3. Tamoxifen.
  4. Leuprorelin (Prostap)
  5. Aromatase inhibitors, such as anastrozole, letrozole, and exemestane)

4. Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is the more advanced and modern treatment option for breast cancer than chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Additionally, it is more effective than others having less severe side effects than chemotherapy. Targeted therapy specifically attacks breast cancer cells without giving any harmful effect to the normal cells. Nowadays, these treatment options are usually used in combination with chemotherapy. 

  1. Palbociclib (Ibrance) 
  2. Panitumumab (Vectibix)
  3. Osimertinib (Tagrisso) 
  4. Panobinostat (Farydak)

Doctors will conduct several clinical trials, including aspirin along with avelumab

The trial will be run by a Breast Cancer Now-funded charity research program. In this future trial, doctors will treat some breast cancer patients with diverse subtypes, with aspirin and the immune-target therapy, such as avelumab drug, before applying surgery and chemotherapy treatment. 

If this trial shows positive outcomes, doctors could conduct further clinical trials for the treatment options of aggressive breast cancers through aspirin along with avelumab. However, they will use secondary triple-negative breast cancer during these further trials, which is more invasive and incurable than other subtypes of breast cancers. It means cancer cells originate in the breast and then spread to other body parts. As a result, it is hard to cure. 

Beth Bramall sharing her experience during the breast cancer treatment period

Beth Bramall is a 44 years old woman from Hampshire, UK. In 2019, Bramall was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. She had chemotherapy after that; she also had a mastectomy and then radiotherapy.

Bramall said that all cancers are not easy to treat, but triple-negative is particularly difficult to treat. As it lacks receptors, it has only a few treatment options in addition to a debilitating and extended treatment plan.

She further shares her experience with telling the side-effects of treatments that she had never heard before. These side effects are joint and muscle pain, burning palms and feet, night sweats and fatigue, migraines, hair loss, diarrhea and constipation, and nausea. But, fortunately, she has had a complete pathological response to the treatment after a long 18-months effort by doctors, her family, and herself. Still, she needs more than two years of further treatments and scans.

Aspirin would provide a new and effective way of aggressive breast cancer treatment

Dr. Anne Armstrong is the lead investigator of this trial. According to her, not every breast cancers give a positive response to immunotherapy. She further said that these trials on the repurposing of aspirin are on the edge of the seat because it is a widely available drug and very economical to produce.

They hope that this trial might provide an ultimate new and safer way to treat breast cancer. In addition, they think that aspirin could improve the treatment effects when combines with immunotherapy.

Dr. Rebecca Lee is the co-researcher of this trial. According to her lab results, aspirin could make a few types of immunotherapy more effective. They found that it prevents cancers from weakening the immune response, which helps not become immune weakening stimulants.

She further hoped that aspirin would inhibit the harmful inflammation caused during cancer development. As a result, the immune system would become healthier to provide a better response to immunotherapy. Thus, they together could efficiently inhibit the progression of cancer cells.


Recently, UK doctors cited that aspirin was beneficial when treated to some triple-positive breast cancer patients in combination with an immunotherapy drug, avelumab. Therefore, they expected that it could make immunotherapy treatment more responsive to incurable aggressive breast cancer.

In addition, doctors are willing to do upcoming clinical trials to explore the effects of aspirin in combination with immunotherapy drugs on the different subtypes of breast cancer, including metastasis of the aggressive nature of breast cancer because they have fewer treatment options currently. Thus, they hope that aspirin would provide a modern and more efficient treatment of aggressive breast cancer.

Written by HealthRadar360

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