Aspirin's Role in Treating MPNs

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Topics include: Treatments

Aspirin can reduce blood clots and, therefore, aid in the prevention of thrombocythemia. MPN expert Dr. Jorge Cortes of MD Anderson Cancer Center explains the role of aspirin in the treatment of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). 

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of MD Anderson Cancer Center, its medical staff or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:      

Dr. Cortes, the pill that anybody can get is low dose aspirin. So you talked about these prescription medicines. Aspirin really has a role?

Dr. Cortes:

Aspirin is important. It does have a role because that one has a different function. We talked about lowering your platelets. But one of the things that the platelets do, as I said, is they stick to each other. That’s their function, that’s what they do. That’s what they’re supposed to do, stick to each other so that they can stop any bleeding. What aspirin does is that it decreases the stickiness of the platelets so that when they find each other they don’t stick as much.

And remember what we’re trying to prevent, one of the things, one of the major things we’re trying to do is prevent in essential thrombocythemia, is the formation of clots. So if you have a lot, but at least they’re less sticky, we will decrease the frequency of developing these clots. So for some patients, we recommend that they use aspirin, and sometimes that’s all we recommend. We just say, okay, aspirin is all you need. We use that in other scenarios, you know.

Some of, you know, that many not have essential thrombocythemia and your doctor told you, you know, a baby aspirin a day may help you. Well, we use it for those purposes. You know, for the heart, you know, if you’re going to form a heart that’s going to give you a heart attack, decreasing the stickiness is a good thing to try to minimize the formation of clots. That’s why we use aspirin.

But you’re not going to see a lower platelet count with aspirin. You don’t measure the sticky. There are ways to measure, but we don’t do it routinely. But it’s that stickiness of the platelets is what the aspirin does.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of MD Anderson Cancer Center, its medical staff or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on April 18, 2014