Background: Aspirin use has been associated with a reduced cancer incidence and fewer deaths from cancer. This study examined whether women with breast cancer prescribed aspirin postdiagnosis had improved survival.
Methods: An observational, population cohort study was undertaken using data linkage of cancer registry, dispensed prescriptions and death records in Tayside, Scotland. All community prescriptions for aspirin in women with breast cancer were extracted and use postdiagnosis for each individual examined using Cox's proportional hazard models. The main outcome measures were all-cause mortality and breast cancer-specific mortality.
Results: Four thousand six hundred and twenty-seven patients diagnosed with breast cancer between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2008 were followed up until 28 February 2010. Median age at diagnosis was 62 (IQR 52-74). One thousand eight hundred and two (39%) deaths were recorded, with 815 (18%) attributed to breast cancer. One thousand and thirty-five (22%) patients were prescribed aspirin postdiagnosis. Such aspirin use was associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality (HR=0.53, 95% CI=0.45-0.63, P<0.001) and breast cancer-specific mortality (HR=0.42, 95% CI=0.31-0.55, P<0.001) after adjusting for age, socioeconomic status, TNM stage, tumour grade, oestrogen receptor status, surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, adjuvant endocrine therapy and aspirin use prediagnosis.
Conclusions: Aspirin use postdiagnosis of breast cancer may reduce both all-cause and breast cancer-specific mortality. Further investigation seeking a causal relationship and which subgroups of patients benefit most await ongoing randomised controlled trials.