Aspirin and antiplatelet treatments in cancer

Derrick L. Tao, Samuel Tassi Yunga, Craig D. Williams, Owen J.T. McCarty

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Platelets have been hypothesized to promote certain neoplastic malignancies; however, antiplatelet drugs are still not part of routine pharmacological cancer prevention and treatment protocols. Paracrine interactions between platelets and cancer cells have been implicated in potentiating the dissemination, survival within the circulation, and extravasation of cancer cells at distant sites of metastasis. Signals from platelets have also been suggested to confer epigenetic alterations, including upregulating oncoproteins in circulating tumor cells, and secretion of potent growth factors may play roles in promoting mitogenesis, angiogenesis, and metastatic outgrowth. Thrombocytosis remains a marker of poor prognosis in patients with solid tumors. Experimental data suggest that lowering of platelet count may reduce tumor growth and metastasis. On the basis of the mechanisms by which platelets could contribute to cancer growth and metastasis, it is conceivable that drugs reducing platelet count or platelet activation might attenuate cancer progression and improve outcomes. We will review select pharmacological approaches that inhibit platelets and may affect cancer development and propagation. We begin by presenting an overview of clinical cancer prevention and outcome studies with low-dose aspirin. We then review current nonclinical development of drugs targeted to platelet binding, activation, and count as potential mitigating agents in cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3201-3211
Number of pages11
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 10 2021


  • P-selectin
  • PLATELETS/adhesion and adhesion receptors
  • PLATELETS/disorders of platelets
  • PLATELETS/physiology of normal platelets
  • PLATELETS/platelet interactions with other cells
  • PLATELETS/platelets: signal transduction
  • aspirin
  • cancer
  • cancer metastasis
  • platelet count

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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