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Low-Dose Aspirin Boosts Accuracy of Colon Cancer Test
Date:12/7/2010

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Stool tests that can detect blood from colorectal tumors are more accurate for patients on a low-dose aspirin regimen, which is known to increase intestinal bleeding, a new study suggests.

While therapeutic aspirin use was once feared to skew the results of fecal occult blood tests, or FOBTs, German researchers found the test was significantly more sensitive for low-dose aspirin users than for non-users. Future studies confirming the results could lead to recommendations to take small doses of aspirin before all such tests, gastroenterology experts said.

Aspirin's blood-thinning properties prompt some doctors to prescribe low-dose regimens (usually 75 mg or 80 mg) to those at risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.

"We had expected that sensitivity was higher -- that is, that more tumors were detected," said lead researcher Dr. Hermann Brenner, a cancer statistics expert at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany. "The surprising result was how strongly sensitivity was raised."

The study, conducted from 2005 to 2009, included 1,979 patients with an average age of 62; 233 were regular low-dose aspirin users, and 1,746 never used it. Researchers analyzed the sensitivity and accuracy of two fecal occult blood tests in detecting advanced colorectal neoplasms, tumors that can either be malignant or benign.

Participants were given stool collection instructions and devices, including bowel preparation for a later colonoscopy to verify results of the FOBTs. They self-reported aspirin and other medication use in standardized questionnaires.

Advanced tumors were found in the same percentage of aspirin users and non-users, but the sensitivity of both stool tests was significantly higher among those taking low-dose aspirin -- 70.8 percent versus 35.9 percent sensitivity on one test and 58.3 percent v
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