The Association Between Aspirin and Basal Cell Carcinoma: A Clinical and Financial Analysis

Lexi Frankel, Amalia D. Ardeljan, Kazuaki Takabe, Omar M. Rashid


Background: Nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most common malignancy. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) comprises about 80% of all NMSCs and its incidence continues to rise. Although BCC rarely leads to metastases or increased mortality, its effects on healthcare costs and quality of life are substantial. Aspirin may prevent the development of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) by the inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes, which are associated with carcinogenesis and inflammation. This study therefore examined the effect of aspirin on the risk of BCC, its clinical outcomes, and its treatment costs.

Methods: A retrospective study (2010 - 2018) was conducted using the Humana Health Insurance Database. International Classification of Disease ninth and 10th codes and National Drug Codes were used to identify BCC diagnoses and aspirin prescriptions. Patients were matched for age, sex, Charlson Comorbidity Score (CCI), and region of residence. Chi-squared, logistic regression, and odds ratio (OR) analyses were utilized to test for significance and to estimate relative risk.

Results: Aspirin use was associated with a decreased incidence of BCC in unmatched (OR = 0.658, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.526 - 0.820) and matched (OR = 0.54, 95% CI 0.47 - 0.61) analyses. Aspirin was also associated with a decreased BCC risk when stratified by hypertension (P = 3.888 × 10-5), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (P = 0.014), diabetes (P = 0.049) and tobacco use (P = 0.017). Aspirin use was not associated with risk of BCC when stratified by obesity (P = 0.408). The average paid per patient for BCC treatment was significantly higher for patients in the aspirin use group than in the aspirin nonuse group (P = 0.0087).

Conclusions: While the high incidence and cost of treatment of BCC are demanding both clinically and financially, the low cost of aspirin and its widespread use may have vital implications for its preventative role in this disease. This study concluded that aspirin use was associated with a significantly decreased risk of BCC.

World J Oncol. 2022;13(6):343-349


Aspirin; Basal cell carcinoma; Nonmelanoma skin cancer; Ultraviolet exposure; COX-1; COX-2

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