A retrospective review published in the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) has found that aspirin therapy is associated with both improved liver function test results and survival after transarterial embolization (TAE) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
The study, conducted by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, included 304 patients, of whom 42 took aspirin at the time of initial TAE for HCC. According to the press release, bilirubin levels decreased by 1 day (0.9 vs 1.3, p < 0.001), 1 month (0.9 vs 1.2, p = 0.048), and 1 year (0.8 vs 1.0, p = 0.021) post-embolization.
"Although the differences in liver function test results in the groups taking and not taking aspirin were small, standard biochemical liver function tests are insensitive to early cirrhotic changes," lead author F. Edward Boas said in a press release.
Clarifying further, Boas noted, "small changes in biochemical liver function test results might underestimate the degree of liver injury after embolization."
Aspirin use indicated no disparity in initial response rate (88% vs 90% complete response or partial response, p = 0.59), median time to progression (6.2 vs 5.2 months, p = 0.42), initial site of progression (p = 0.77), or fraction of patients dying with disease progression (88% vs 89%, p = 1.00). The median overall survival period after TAE for HCC measured longer for the cohort taking aspirin (57 vs 23 months, p = 0.008).
Despite comparable liver function, American Joint Committee on Cancer stage, comorbidities, and other clinical characteristics before embolization in both groups, because this study was retrospective, the study authors acknowledged that a confounding variable may account for the improved survival among patients taking aspirin.
  1. Aspirin Improves Liver Function After Embolization of Hepatocellular Carcinoma [press release]. ARRS website. Leesburg, VA. Published July 31, 2019. https://arrs.org/ARRSLIVE/Pressroom/PressReleases/aspirin-improves-liver-function-embolization-hepatocellular-carcinoma.aspx. Accessed August 5, 2019.