"Maybe men who develop blood clots have something else that affects how they respond to chemotherapy. We just don't know," Stein said.
Another expert said this is not the first time that blood thinners, including aspirin (which was not included in the new study), have been linked to improved survival for men with prostate cancer.
"Most of the data comes out of studies where oncology patients are being treated with blood thinners to prevent blood clots and incidentally there was some improvement in survival," said Dr. Manish Vira, director of the fellowship program in urologic oncology at North Shore-LIJ's Arthur Smith Institute for Urology in Lake Success, N.Y.
The new findings are "thought-provoking, but we should not just go ahead and treat everyone with cancer with blood thinners based on this study," he said.
Further research is needed, agreed Dr. Eric Singer, a urologic oncologist at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and assistant professor of surgery at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J. "There is evidence from a number of studies suggesting that blood thinners might interact in some different ways with cancer and its treatment," Singer said.
"The guys who were getting [blood thinners] did better and something could be going on there, but keep in mind that being on a blood thinner comes with a risk of bleeding and stroke and should not be used lightly," Singer added.
More work is needed to confirm the results, and then to determine the ideal anticoagulant as well as the dose, timing and related risks, the study authors said.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on prostate cancer.
SOURCES: Cy A. Stein, M.D., Ph.D., Arthur a
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