“Take two aspirin and call me in the morning” may be more than just a cliché or the typical ending to an old parlor joke. It could be great medical advice for some men with prostate cancer, according to Dr. Kevin Choe, a radiation oncologist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.
Choe, lead author of a study looking at the effects of anticoagulants on cancer growth and spread, found men with non-metastasized prostate cancer who took aspirin, in addition to radiation therapy or surgery, reduced their risk of dying of the disease by more than half. He presented the findings on November 3, 2010 at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) in San Diego, Calif.
The study involved 5,275 men with localized cancer whose disease had not spread beyond the prostate gland and received surgery or radiation, two of the most common treatments for prostate cancer. In the study 1,982 patients were taking anticoagulants, like aspirin. Previous clinical trials have shown that anticoagulants may interfere with cancer growth and spread but have produced mixed results.
Choe said one possibility for poor trial outcomes could be attributed to large numbers of patients in previous trials had already experience metastasis and may be beyond the point where an anticoagulant is beneficial.
To test this idea, researchers evaluated data from the Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urological Research Endeavor (CaPSURE) database to investigate the effect of anti-coagulation medications (aspirin, warfarin, clopidogrel and/or enoxaparin) on the risk of dying from prostate cancer among men whose cancer has not metastasized. Patients were classified as having high-, intermediate- or low-risk disease.
Results of the study show that the use of anticoagulants among prostate cancer patients who underwent either surgery or radiation reduced the risk of dying from the disease from 10 percent to 4 percent at 10 years. The risk of developing bone metastasis was also reduced.
In addition, findings reveal the aspirin benefit appears even greater among patients diagnosed with high-risk prostate cancer.
“This is exciting news as patients with high-risk disease have the most aggressive cancer, with a high likelihood of dying from the disease, and the treatment options are currently limited,” Choe said.
The study also found aspirin produced the most prominent benefit compared to other anticoagulants. While the findings from this study are promising, further studies are necessary before the addition of aspirin to prostate cancer therapy becomes standard treatment, he said.
Lynette Summerill is an award-winning writer who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to writing about cancer-related issues for EmpowHer, she pens Nonsmoking Nation, a blog following global tobacco news and events.