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Aspirin May Prolong Prostate Cancer Survival

Taking a regular dose of aspirin may help men treated for prostate cancer, either with surgery or radiation, live longer, especially if they have the high risk form of the disease.

This was the finding of a new study published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

First author Kevin Choe, assistant professor of radiation oncology at University of Texas (UT) Southwestern, is first author of the study. He told the press:

"The results from this study suggest that aspirin prevents the growth of tumor cells in prostate cancer, especially in high-risk prostate cancer, for which we do not have a very good treatment currently."

There have been studies suggesting that regular aspirin or other anticoagulants can slow cancer growth and prevent it spreading. For instance, earlier this year, three studies in The Lancet added weight to the idea that for cancer, the benefit of daily aspirin probably outweigh the risks.

But clinical evidence has been limited, say Choe and colleagues.

For their multi-center study, they looked at data on nearly 6,000 men who had prostate cancer treated with surgery (prostatectomy) or radiotherapy whose details were recorded in the Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor (CaPSURE) database.

37% of the participants (about 2,200 men) were taking anticoagulants (warfarin, clopidogrel, enoxaparin, and/or aspirin).

The researchers compared the risk of death from prostate cancer between the participants taking anticoagulants and those who did not.

The results showed that the rate of death over 10 years from prostate cancer was significantly lower in the anticoagulant group than it was in the non-anticoagulant group (3% versus 8% respectively).

The risk of the cancer returning, and of it spreading to the bone was also significantly lower in the anticoagulant group.

When they analyzed a subgroup of participants according to clinical risk, the researchers found the reduction in deaths to prostate cancer was most pronounced in patients with high-risk disease (4% v 19%, respectively).

The beneficial effect was seen in both patients treated with surgery and patients treated with radiation.

And, on further analysis, the researchers found the reduction in deaths to prostate cancer was mostly due to aspirin.

They conclude that anticoagulant therapy, and aspirin in particular, is linked with a reduced risk of death from prostate cancer in men treated either with surgery or radiation therapy.

"The association was most prominent in patients with high-risk disease," they add.

However, Choe cautions that "we need to better understand the optimal use of aspirin before routinely recommending it to all prostate cancer patients".

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in men and the second biggest cause of cancer deaths in the US.

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