Aspirin may be key in fight against melanoma

Aspirin may be key in fight against melanoma

The battle rages on between aspirin and its effects on melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. And aspirin continues to come out the perceived winner.

Several studies have linked aspirin to a reduction in the development of some types of cancer. A recent study, published this month online in the journal Cancer, helps again confirm that aspirin may be very effective in helping combat melanoma.

The study examined nearly 60,000 postmenopausal, Caucasian women and found that those who took more aspirin were less likely to develop melanoma skin cancer during the 12 years of follow-up. The large sample of data came from the Women’s Health Initiative, a program by the U.S. National Institutes of Health to conduct clinical trials and research that address major health issues affecting the mortality of postmenopausal women. Overall, women who used aspirin experienced a 21 percent lower risk of melanoma over those who did not take aspirin.

According to the study, the longer the women took aspirin, the lower the risk. Those women who used aspirin for five or more years had a 30 percent lower melanoma risk compared with women who did not use aspirin at all.

The key reason behind the aspirin’s potential effectiveness may have something to do with what the pill targets. “Aspirin works by reducing inflammation, and this may be why using aspirin may lower your risk of developing melanoma,” said Dr. Jean Tang, co-author of the study and assistant dermatology professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, in a statement.

Although Dr. Adam Riker, surgical oncologist and director of Advocate Cancer Institute in Oak Lawn, recognizes aspirin’s anti-inflammatory properties may possibly inhibit cancer growth, he recommends an even more practical approach: full-body skin exams done monthly.

When you’re doing these self-exams, Dr. Riker says, “Look for the ABCs.”

  • A is for asymmetry.
  • B is for border irregularity.
  • C is for color change.
  • D is for diameter increase—anything greater than 6mm, the size of a pencil eraser.
  • E is for evolution or elevation. Evolution is a changing spot on the skin, and elevation is something you can feel when you run your finger over it.

“These are all bad things,” says Dr. Riker. “If you notice any of these, see a dermatologist. You should also visit a dermatologist once a year for a full-body skin exam,” he adds.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.