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Aspirin, Hormone Therapy Combo Can Shorten Lives of Prostate Cancer Patients
Date:12/26/2007

First, prescribed to protect the heart, can lead to halting of cancer therapy, report says

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Men undergoing hormone therapy for prostate cancer who take baby aspirin to protect their heart run a significantly higher risk of dying, new research suggests.

Apparently, baby aspirin interacts with the hormone therapy to elevate liver-function test levels. The end result is the man must stop potentially lifesaving hormone therapy.

The findings are contained in a letter published in the Dec. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Hormonal therapy, which involves reducing levels of male hormones called androgens, is a common treatment for prostate cancer, but it can raise the risk of a heart attack. So men who are older or have known coronary risk factors such as diabetes or smoking usually take baby aspirin while undergoing hormone therapy because aspirin helps prevent blood clots.

"Aspirin is being prescribed more widely for these men so we looked to see if there was any effect of aspirin on prostate cancer outcomes," said lead researcher Dr. Anthony V. D'Amico, chief of the division of genitourinary radiation oncology at Brigham & Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both in Boston.

The authors analyzed data on 206 men with localized prostate cancers who were already enrolled in a trial to compare radiation therapy alone with radiation therapy plus hormone therapy. The hormone therapy included six months of the anti-androgen flutamide.

Flutamide had a tendency to elevate results of liver-function tests. Although these elevations were benign, they meant hormonal therapy had to be stopped, at least temporarily, D'Amico explained.

Men who didn't complete six months of hormone therapy were 3.5 times more likely to die compared to men who got the full course of hormone therapy.

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