Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with the majority of cases occurring in the over-65s. Rising levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) are associated with both localized and metastatic prostate cancer and a blood test for PSA is used for the early detection of the disease.
A recent study suggests that regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen may reduce measured serum PSA levels, although it was unclear whether this indicated a protective effect against prostate cancer or whether use of NSAIDs obscured the test results. Paracetamol, which has very little anti-inflammatory activity, did not show a statistically significant effect on serum PSA levels.
Earlier studies have suggested that aspirin may reduce the risk of metastatic prostate cancer but not the total risk of prostate cancer and that combined long-term use of statins and NSAIDs might be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Since prostate cancer cells show unusually high levels of the enzyme COX-2, which is inhibited by NSAIDs, there is considerable interest in the potential for COX-2 inhibitors in the treatment of prostate cancer and several clinical studies have been initiated.