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Blood Thinners May Boost Survival for Prostate Cancer Patients: Study
Date:2/21/2013

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Men with advanced prostate cancer might live longer when they are taking blood-thinning medication, a small study suggests.

Prostate cancer patients who were also taking a blood thinner, usually to stave off a blood clot, had a 39 percent increase in overall survival over men who were not taking these drugs, report researchers from the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore.

But the study authors and outside experts caution that blood thinners can't be prescribed routinely to cancer patients, as they confer risks including bleeding, although men who need an anticoagulant might also find it beneficial in terms of prostate cancer. The findings were presented this month by Caroline Pratz and colleagues at an American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Orlando, Fla.

The U.S. National Cancer Institute estimates that this year almost 239,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, and nearly 30,000 men will die from the disease.

The new study included almost 250 men with advanced or spreading prostate cancer who were receiving chemotherapy. Of these, 11.7 percent were also taking a blood thinner to prevent potentially fatal blood clots that could detach and reach their lungs, known as a pulmonary embolism. The men taking blood thinners -- heparin and warfarin were included -- survived for about 21 months, compared to slightly more than 17 months for men who were not taking blood thinners.

The finding was surprising, because the researchers thought venous thromboembolism -- clots deep in the leg veins -- would negatively affect overall survival.

But how or even if the blood-thinning medications could confer a survival edge is unknown. The study only shows an association, it does not show that it's the blood thinners themselves that made the difference, said
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