SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Taking a daily aspirin after being diagnosed with prostate cancer could reduce death risk by nearly 40%, according to a study presented Monday, Jan. 4, during the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in San Francisco.

Prostate cancer kills one every 19.1 minutes, marking the leading type of cancer among men. The study was led by Dr. Christopher Allard, a urologic oncology fellow at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who affirms that the aspirin suppresses platelets in the blood, preventing the prostate cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.

“Platelets probably shield circulating cancer cells from immune recognition. By depleting those platelets, you’re allowing the immune system to recognize the cancer,” commented Allard.

Photo: The Guardian.
Photo: The Guardian.

The study began in 1982 and was conducted on 22,000 men from the Physician’s Health Study. Researchers found that those men diagnosed with prostate cancer who took three aspirins every day were 24 percent less likely to end of developing a lethal form of the cancer, and decreased their death risk from the disease by 39 percent.

Nevertheless, the study does not clearly indicate a direct correlation between regular aspirin use and reduced mortality rate from prostate cancer, but it still suggests that aspirin could be useful in developing treatments for the disease.

ASCO spokesperson and oncology expert Dr. Sumanta Pal pointed out that the findings come from an observational study for which researchers used surveys and reviews of hospital records. Moreover, Allard said further research was required to start prescribing aspirin for the three million men in the United States who are currently suffering from prostate cancer. However, he still suggested that those men who may already benefit from the cardiovascular effects from aspirin could have yet another good reason to continue the regular use of aspirin.

Another study presented at the ASCO meeting found that an experimental new blood test could be used as a “liquid biopsy”, given that solid tumors shed cancer cells into the bloodstream. The test could help determine the best treatments for prostate cancer patients by using a computer to analyze the look of those cells, according to lead author Dr. Howard Scher, head of the Genitourinary Oncology Service at Memorial Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Researchers found that patients who had circulating cancer cells that were significantly different in terms of appearance did not respond well to hormone therapy and survived for a shorter time.

Source: Wall Street Journal