JAMA Logo Colorectal cancer patients may benefit from low-dose aspirin, or at least the following article suggests so. A recent study suggests that consuming low-dose aspirin before undergoing a newer type of fecal occult blood test (FOBT) results in higher sensitivity for detecting advanced colorectal tumors. Screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) along with FOBTs is believed to decline CRC incidence and mortality.

The study aimed to highlight the probable link between use of low-dose aspirin and performance of 2 iFOBTs. Authors scrutinized a large sample of women and men who underwent CRC screening. Initiated from 2005 through 2009, the investigation encompassed 1,979 patients with an average age of 62.1 years. Among a total of 233 low-dose aspirin regular users, 167 were men and 67 women. On the other hand from 1,746 who never used low-dose aspirin, 809 were men and 937 women. Measures of sensitivity and specificity in detecting advanced colorectal neoplasms were examined with 2 quantitative iFOBTs.

Scientists quote, “We provide a detailed comparison of the diagnostic performance of 2 quantitative iFOBTs among users and non-users of low-dose aspirin in the target population for CRC screening. For both tests, sensitivity was markedly higher, while specificity was slightly lower among users of low-dose aspirin as compared with nonusers. Our study strongly suggests that use of low-dose aspirin does not hamper testing for fecal occult blood by immunochemical tests. On the contrary, our findings raise the hypothesis that test performance may be enhanced by temporary use of low-dose aspirin, a hypothesis that needs replication in larger samples and followed up in further research, ideally including randomized trials and different types of FOBTs.”

Hermann Brenner, M.D., M.P.H., of the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany, and colleagues registered 24 users forming 10.3 percent and 181 low-dose aspirin non-users presenting 10.4 percent with advanced neoplasms. For the hemoglobin test, sensitivity probably was 70.8 percent for low-dose aspirin users and 35.9 percent among nonusers. Specificity apparently was 85.7 percent for users and 89.2 percent in nonusers. As for the hemoglobin-haptoglobin test, sensitivity appeared 58.3 percent for users and 32 percent among non-users. On the other hand, specificity was 85.7 percent among users and 91.1 percent for nonusers.

The study was published in the December 8 issue of JAMA.