Aspirin inhibits ovarian cancer growth, USF lab study finds

Aspirin may reduce ovarian cancer growth, a laboratory study by the USF College of Medicine has shown.

The study, published in the October issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, demonstrated that aspirin inhibited ovarian tumor cell growth by as much as 68 percent. The higher the dosage of aspirin added to the culture of ovarian cancer cells, the more growth inhibition was observed.

The researchers also found that combining aspirin with a monoclonal antibody specific for the HER-2/neu protein created even greater suppression of growth than treating the tumor cells with aspirin alone. This combination decreased ovarian cancer cell growth by 84 percent.

HER-2/neu is a receptor protein on the tumor cell surface that binds to a substance that stimulates growth. The protein is elevated in a third of ovarian cancers.

Jeanne Becker, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was senior author for the study, along with co-author Janet Drake, MD, formerly a gynecologic oncology fellow at USF. Last year, Dr. Becker’s laboratory demonstrated that aspirin inhibits the growth of endometrial cancer by promoting programmed cell death, or apoptosis.

USF continues its preclinical studies to determine how aspirin inhibits tumor cell growth. Dr. Becker said much more research must be done, including patient studies, before women are urged to begin taking aspirin to stave off ovarian cancer.

Because there are few early symptoms, ovarian cancer is often diagnosed in advanced stages and kills more women than any other gynecological cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2002

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