2016 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium Highlights on Regular Aspirin Use to Reduce Risk of Dying from Prostate Cancer, with Sumanta Kumar Pal, MD

January 4, 2016
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In today’s podcast, Dr. Sumanta Pal discusses one study highlighted at the 2016 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium that examines whether regular aspirin use lowers the risk of dying from prostate cancer. 



ASCO: You're listening to a podcast from Lineagotica. This cancer information website is produced by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, known as ASCO, the world's leading professional organization for doctors that care for people with cancer.

In today's podcast, we'll discuss one study highlighted at the 2016 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium that examines whether regular aspirin use lowers the risk of dying from prostate cancer. The 2016 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, held January 7th through 9th, is co-sponsored by ASCO and offers presentations on the latest multidisciplinary research for genitourinary cancers. This podcast will be led by Dr. Sumantra Kumar Pal, a medical oncologist and co-director of the Kidney Cancer Program at City of Hope, as well as assistant professor in the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research. Dr. Pal is also a member of ASCO's Cancer Communications Committee. ASCO would like to thank Dr. Pal for summarizing this research.

Dr. Pal: Hi, my name is Monty Pal and I'm a medical oncologist at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center. Today, I'm going to discuss a study that looked at the impact of taking aspirin regularly on men with prostate cancer. This study drew from patients enrolled in the physicians' health study which encompasses over 22,000 men. Men were followed for nearly three decades and, over this span of time, over 3,000 developed prostate cancer. Now just over 400 developed lethal prostate cancer, meaning either they had disease spreading outside of the prostate or they actually died of prostate cancer-related causes. What researchers found is actually quite fascinating. Regular use of aspirin reduced the development of lethal prostate cancer by about 24%. Now in any study of this nature, it's important to ensure that other factors aren't driving this difference. To this end, the researchers know that age, race or smoking did not result this observation.

So let's shift gears and talk about how this might potentially impact our conversations in the clinic. To my patients with prostate cancer, I would suggest that the state is compelling, but not definitive. This study was done in a retrospective fashion, meaning the researchers relied on an existing database of information to generate their findings. Now in the research community, we always tend to emphasize the need for prospective research. This would represent the clinical trial in which patients with prostate cancer are randomized to either receive aspirin or perhaps a placebo, i.e. a sugar pill. These sorts of randomized studies truly represent the gold standard in clinical research. Since such studies could take years, if not decades, to be completed, in the meantime, the discussion around aspirin should focus primarily on the cardiac benefits of the drug. If your general practitioner or cardiologist recommends aspirin to protect your heart, that remains the best rationale to take it. Aspirin certainly comes with risks, such as bleeding, so a thorough conversation with your physician should really precede your taking the drug.

ASCO: Thank you, Dr. Pal. To learn more about prostate cancer, visit lineagotica.info/prostate. And for more expert interviews and stories from people with living with cancer, visit the Lineagotica Blog at lineagotica.info/blog.

Lineagotica is supported by the Conquer Cancer Foundation, which is working to create a world free from the fear of cancer by funding breakthrough research, sharing knowledge with physicians and patients worldwide, and supporting initiatives to ensure that all people have access to high quality cancer care. Thank you for listening to this Lineagotica podcast.