In a fascinating study (which will be presented at the October 2010, American Society for Radiation Oncology annual meeting), investigators will be presenting the results of an analysis of 5,275 patients who had been treated for prostate cancer (with either surgery or radiation therapy.)
They will be reporting that among the 1,982 men who were taking an anticoagulant medication (including aspirin) after their prostate cancer treatment, their risk of dying from prostate cancer was significantly decreased; 4% risk of death at 10 years after treatment (in patients on anticoagulant medications) vs. 10% risk of death at 10 years (in patients who were not taking an antiocoagulant.)
Compared to the other antiocoagulants studied, aspirin offered the greatest survival benefits.
Perhaps the most important finding of this study was that patients with the most aggressive cancers (high-risk of spread) derived the greatest improvement in survival from taking anticoagulants.
This study provides encouraging news for men with prostate cancer. Nevertheless, we need to recognize that without a carefully controlled randomized trial (i.e. placebo vs. aspirin, dose responses, etc.) no definitive conclusions can be made on the potential benefits of anticoagulants in prostate cancer treatment.
At this time, I recommend that men with prostate cancer discuss the risks of taking aspirin (or any anticoagulant) with their primary care physician and cancer care team before starting them on their own. Aspirin (although a very commonly used, inexpensive and widely available over-the-counter medication) can still cause serious medical problems, particularly bleeding. If it is determined that your risks of complications are low, taking a baby aspirin each-day may a safe preventative strategy that could reduce your risk of prostate cancer recurrence (and possibly the recurrence or development of colorectal cancers.)