There is growing epidemiological evidence that daily aspirin has a role in the prevention and remission of some cancers, including prostate cancer. Therefore, a review of journal reports published between 1990 and 2013 was performed in order to summarize evidence on the safety and efficacy of aspirin in the prevention and / or adjuvant treatment of prostate and other cancers.
The articles in the final data set included meta-analyses of cancer outcomes from studies originally designed to investigate the effect of daily aspirin on cardiovascular outcomes. These studies demonstrated variable effect sizes, which consistently showed a protective effect of aspirin for most types and stages of neoplastic disease. Basic research studies elucidated the possible mechanism by which aspirin is thought to prevent incident cancer and also attenuate the progression of established cancer. The narrative review critiqued the current methodologies used to investigate this topic.
Although there is growing evidence from observational epidemiologic studies that daily aspirin has a role in the prevention and adjuvant therapy of some cancers, it is concluded that there is currently too limited experimental evidence on using aspirin as a prophylactic or adjuvant treatment for cancer to withstand rigorous regulatory assessment, and hence enable preventative and /or adjuvant public health recommendations in high risk populations in South Africa and elsewhere.
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By Tohlang Sehloho, National Department of Health, Republic of South Africa (SehloT@health.gov.za) and Neo Ledibane, Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Republic of South Africa.