Anticoagulants and breast cancer survival: A nationwide cohort study

Pete T. Kinnunen, Mika O. Murto, Miia Artama, Eero Pukkala, Kala Visvanathan, Teemu J. Murtola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Various components of the coagulation cascade have been linked to breast cancer progression. In vivo results suggest that anticoagulants possess anticancer properties, but there are virtually no studies in human populations. Our nationwide study explored the association between anticoagulant use and breast cancer survival. Methods: All anticoagulants used from 1995 to 2015 in women (n = 73,170) diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in Finland between 1995 and 2013 were identified from the national prescription database; women were identified from the Finnish Cancer Registry. Cox regressions were performed to analyze breast cancer survival as a function of pre- and postdiagnostic anticoagulant use; analyses were conducted for different anticoagulant subtypes and overall. Models were adjusted for age, mammography screening, tumor clinical characteristics, comorbidities, statin use, antidiabetic use, and antihypertensive use. To control for immortal time bias, postdiagnostic anticoagulant use was analyzed as a time-dependent variable. Results: At a median of 5.8 years after breast cancer diagnosis, 10,900 (15%) women had died from breast cancer. In total, 25,622 (35%) women had used anticoagulants during the study period. Postdiagnostic anticoagulant use increased the risk of breast cancer death (HR = 1.41; 95% confidence interval, 1.33-1.49). The risk was especially high for low-molecular weight heparin, although the effect disappeared in long-term users. Conclusions: Anticoagulant use provides no clinical benefit for breast cancer survival; however, the association between thrombosis and cancer might mask potential survival benefits. Impact: Future pharmacoepidemiologic studies should adjust for anticoagulant use. Research should focus on the use of new oral anticoagulants because these are rarely studied and might be associated with improved breast cancer survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-215
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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