Painkillers May Play Role in Prostate Cancer

Doctors unsure if drugs reduce risk—or merely make screening harder
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Sep 8, 2008 5:49 PM CDT
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer found in men worldwide.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Common pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen belong to a class of drugs that lowers protein levels doctors use to test for prostate cancer, the second-most-common cancer found in men. But researchers say it's not clear if the drugs are lowering the risk of developing the cancer or just making it harder to detect, Reuters reports.

It’s premature to take painkillers in the hope of lowering cancer risk, doctors say, but the drugs "could certainly change whether or not you would be referred for a biopsy.” Meanwhile, the routine screening test is being hotly debated for detecting harmless tumors that prompt unnecessary treatment. A study is being conducted to see if the test actually saves lives. (Read more prostate cancer stories.)