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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cheap, easy-to-take aspirin tablets may help men being treated for prostate cancer live longer, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.
Prostate cancer patients who had been treated with either surgery or radiation, and who took aspirin or other anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin, were far less likely to die of cancer, the researchers said.
Those who took the drugs had a 4 percent risk of dying from prostate cancer after 10 years, compared to 10 percent for men who did not take anticoagulants.
Men with high-risk prostate cancer benefited the most, the researchers said ahead of an American Society for Radiation Oncology meeting, which starts next week in San Diego.
"Evidence has shown that anticoagulants may interfere with cancer growth and spread," Dr. Kevin Choe of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas said in a statement.
"If the major effect of anticoagulants is preventing metastasis (tumor spread), this may be why previous clinical trials with anticoagulation medications produced mixed results, since most patients in these trials already had metastasis. If the cancer has already metastasized, then anticoagulants may not be as beneficial."
Choe's team looked at a study of 5,275 men whose cancer had not spread beyond the prostate gland. Of the men, 1,982 were taking anticoagulants.
Those taking aspirin or other drugs to reduce clotting were far less likely to have the prostate tumors pop up elsewhere in their bodies and were less likely to die, Choe's team said in materials published ahead of the meeting.
"The benefit was most prominent with aspirin use over other anticoagulants," Choe told a news briefing.
"Findings from this study are promising. However, further studies are necessary before the addition of aspirin to prostate cancer therapy becomes standard treatment," he added.
Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Jerry Norton