Aspirin for prevention of colorectal cancer in the elderly: friend or foe?

Authors Abhilash Perisetti, Hemant Goyal, Benjamin Tharian, Sumant Inamdar, Jawahar L. Mehta.


Cancer is the leading cause of death among men and women aged 60-79 years. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in males and the second most common in females, with about 0.8 million deaths worldwide per year. Individuals older than 50 years account for 20-50% of colonic adenomas. Several measures have been proposed to decrease colorectal cancer risks, such as an increase in dietary fiber, use of aspirin, and physical activity. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been proposed as protective agents against the development of colorectal cancer and colorectal adenomas. Aspirin was the first pharmacological agent endorsed by the United States Preventive Services Task Force screening for colorectal cancer chemoprevention. Although studies have shown up to 40% colorectal cancer risk reduction in individuals at average risk, data
regarding this benefit are inconsistent. Several recent studies show that prophylactic use of aspirin in elderly subjects may not be beneficial in preventing the occurrence of colorectal cancers. Given the risks associated with aspirin, such as non-fatal and fatal bleeding events, aspirin’s role should be redefined, especially in individuals at risk of bleeding. This review provides a discussion of the recent studies on the role of aspirin use in elderly individuals at risk of colorectal cancer.

Keywords Aspirin, colorectal cancer, elderly, cancer prevention, chemoprophylaxis

Ann Gastroenterol 2021; 34 (1): 1-11

Review Articles