Patients at high risk of developing of some cancers may be prescribed regular doses of aspirin as a preventative measure, researchers have suggested.
Studies have shown that taking the painkiller on a daily basis can cut the chances of developing the illness by up to a third.
The painkiller has been shown to be particularly effective against bowel cancer – one of the most common forms of the disease – particularly if patients have a family history of the illness, the Daily Mail reported.
But it also causes stomach bleeds and ulcers, which are not usually fatal but often require hospital treatment.
As such, doctors would need to weigh up whether the protective benefits of aspirin outweighed its side-effects. They may decide to recommend it only to those at high risk of bowel cancer, for example, those who have a strong family history.
Professor Sir Mike Richards said that the odds of survival for lung cancer – the most common form – have ‘barely been improving’ over the last five years.
His report said there were now 269,000 new cases of cancer a year, up by 4,000 compared with last year.