Regular use of anti-inflammatory medication, such as aspirin, after an ovarian cancer diagnosis appears to improve ovarian cancer-specific survival, a study shows.
The study, “Pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis use of common analgesics and ovarian cancer prognosis (NHS/NHSII): a cohort study,” was published in the journal Lancet Oncology.
Despite the fact that ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cause of cancer death among women worldwide, there are limited tools for early detection of the disease. In fact, 60 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed after the disease has already spread to other organs.
An increasing number of studies have shown that inflammation leads to worse outcomes in patients with ovarian cancer. As a result, researchers have looked into treating patients with anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as an add-on to standard treatment.
However, there is little data available on whether post-diagnosis use of anti-inflammatories leads to improved overall survival in ovarian cancer patients.
To address this, researchers investigated whether the use of aspirin, non-aspirin NSAIDs, and paracetamol would lead to improved ovarian cancer-specific survival in women with epithelial ovarian cancer.
Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII), two long-term continuing studies that have each enrolled more than 100,000 nurses in the United States, researchers examined the self-reported regular use — defined as two or more days per week — of these medicines.
They included 1,031 patients in the pre-diagnosis analysis and 964 patients in the post-diagnosis analysis.
Compared with patients who had never used any of these medications, those who reported recent use of either aspirin or non-aspirin NSAIDs after diagnosis had improved ovarian-cancer specific survival.
In fact, regular use of aspirin after diagnosis was associated with a 32% improvement and use of non-aspirin NSAIDs with a 33% improvement in ovarian-cancer specific survival.
Interestingly, regular use of paracetamol after diagnosis was not associated with any effect on ovarian cancer-specific survival, nor was the use of any of these three medications prior to a diagnosis.
Researchers then examined the outcomes of patients who changed their use of these medications from pre-diagnosis to post-diagnosis. They discovered that patients who became recent users of aspirin or non-aspirin NSAIDs after their ovarian cancer diagnosis had a 54-56% lower risk of dying from ovarian cancer compared with those who had never taken them.
“Recent use of aspirin or non-aspirin NSAIDs, defined as current use in the past 2 years, after diagnosis appears to improve ovarian cancer-specific survival,” the researchers concluded.
They propose that if these results are confirmed in future studies, then researchers should look into exploring the potential combined effects of anti-inflammatory medications with standard ovarian cancer therapies.