A new study has reported that use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) before a diagnosis of breast cancer does not influence survival. There is growing evidence that NSAID use reduces the risk of breast cancer. However, little is known about the influence of NSAID use on relapse after diagnosis. The study included 1,024 women with primary invasive breast cancer. The authors determined whether (1) recent NSAID use before diagnosis; or (2) cumulative lifetime aspirin use before diagnosis were associated with survival among the study participants.

Recent pre-diagnostic use of aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and acetaminophen (Tylenol) were not found to be associated with breast cancer-specific death or overall death (i.e., from any cause). Nor was cumulative lifetime use of aspirin before diagnosis associated with either breast cancer-specific or all-cause mortality. Risk was also not found to be associated with dose or frequency of use. The results did not vary according to whether the women were premenopausal or postmenopausal at diagnosis. The authors conclude that neither pre-diagnostic NSAID use nor cumulative lifetime aspirin use were associated with breast cancer survival. The study findings do not support a role of NSAID use prior to diagnosis in breast cancer survival.

Comments regarding the study

While aspirin use is associated with reduced risk of breast cancer in the general population, there are some women for whom aspirin does not reduce risk. The implications of the study are that women who are not protected from breast cancer by aspirin use are also not protected from breast cancer recurrence by pre-diagnosis aspirin use.