Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, otherwise known as NSAIDs, are drugs that are known to reduce pain, inflammation, fever, and blood clots.
This class of drugs include the familiar over-the-counter medications aspirin and ibuprofen, which are commonly used as pain relievers.
Recently, the Journal of Experimental Medicine published a study from UC San Francisco that showed that the use of NSAIDs significantly improved survival for patients with head and neck cancer. The study observed the effects of NSAID treatments on patients with mutated or amplified PIK3CA genes as well as patients without altered PIK3CA genes. The study focused on the PIK3CA gene since it is the most commonly altered oncogene in regards to head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, mutated PIK3CA genes are strongly linked to head and neck cancer associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
The study found that that for patients with mutated PIK3CA genes, use of NSAID treatments for at least six months improved their overall five-year survival rate from 25 to 78 percent. This is a significant improvement compared to patients with mutated PIK3CA genes who didn’t use NSAIDs treatments. This suggests that there may be a clinical advantage to using NSAID therapy to treat certain cases of head and neck cancer.
While this study’s results have yet to be supported in prospective trials, they present a possible new avenue of treatment for patients with certain types of cancer.