Background: and aims: Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). Animal models have shown that aspirin is also effective in reducing the density of aberrant crypt foci (ACF). The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of chronic administration of aspirin on the distribution pattern and histological characteristics of ACF in patients with CRC.
Methods: Our study compared the distribution patterns and histomorphological characteristics of ACF between a group of CRC patients treated with low dose aspirin (n=59) and a control group without aspirin (n=135). ACF were visualised on methylene blue stained macroscopically normal mucosa, microdissected, and serially cut.
Results: ACF were found in 75.8% of mucosal samples from the control group and in 36% of mucosal samples from the aspirin treated group, indicating a 47% decline in prevalence of ACF in colonic samples of patients treated with aspirin. A significant reduction from 92.5% to 40% (p<0.0001) was found in distal large bowel samples containing one or more ACF. Similarly, the aspirin treated group showed a reduction in ACF density of 64% and 82%, respectively, in both proximal and distal parts of the colon, indicating a significant reduction in ACF/cm(2) in distal colon samples (p<0.01). The aspirin treated group displayed a 52% reduction in dysplastic ACF although this difference was not statistically significant.
Conclusions: Our study has provided evidence of the effective chemopreventive action of low dose aspirin on ACF in humans.