SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The risk of lethal prostate cancer, but not of overall, high-grade, or advanced cancers, was reduced with regular aspirin use. These findings were reported at the 2016 Genitourinary Cancer Symposium.
“It is premature to recommend aspirin for prevention of lethal prostate cancer, but men with prostate cancer who may already benefit from aspirin’s cardiovascular effects could have one more reason to consider regular aspirin use,” said lead study author Christopher Brian Allard, MD, Urologic Oncology Fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
“When discussing potential benefits of aspirin with their doctors, in terms of both cardiovascular health and risk of prostate cancer death, men should also consider potential risks of regular aspirin use,” noted Allard.
The authors explained that their study is the first to specifically focus on preventing lethal cancer and clarifying the role that aspirin may play in preventing advanced disease.
Data from 22 071 men enrolled in the Physicians’ Health Study was analyzed. Over 27 years of follow-up, prostate cancer was diagnosed in 3193 men. Of those, 403 men developed lethal prostate cancer, defined as metastatic disease or death from prostate cancer.
For men without a diagnosis of prostate cancer, the risk of developing lethal prostate cancer was 24% lower for men who took aspirin regularly (more than 3 tablets a week). This was determined after adjusting for differences in age, race, body mass index, and smoking status.
Notably, aspirin did not affect the likelihood of a diagnosis of total prostate cancer, high-grade prostate cancer, or locally advanced prostate cancer.
For men who had prostate cancer, regular aspirin use after diagnosis was associated with a 39% lower risk of dying from prostate cancer. In contrast, use of aspirin before diagnosis did not have a measurable benefit.
Allard stated that the researchers think the aspirin probably prevents the progression of prostate cancer to metastases, but that the biological basis for this protective effect is unknown. Preclinical research suggests aspirin may prevent the spread of cancer to the bone.
The study was funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the National Cancer Institute.