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Prostate cancer radiation more successful for men who take statins

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Cholesterol drugs lower the chances of prostate cancer recurrence, find a new investigation. Men with high-risk prostate cancer are less likely to have a recurrence when they take statin drugs commonly used to lower cholesterol levels. Researchers noted men given the drugs during radiation treatment for cancer were less likely to have a relapse of the disease compared to men not given statin drugs.

Statins control prostate tumor growth

Michael J. Zelefsky, M.D., the senior author of the study and a radiation oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, said, “In our retrospective study, we have demonstrated that statin use during radiotherapy is associated with improved biochemical tumor control among high-risk patients."

In the study, 1681 men were followed who were diagnosed with high-risk prostate cancer and treated with radiation therapy between 1995 and 2007. Among the study participants, 382, or 23 percent, were taking statins at the start of and throughout treatment.

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The scientists followed the men an average of six years, finding prostate cancer was less likely to recur in the men taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs.

There was a 17 percent return of prostate cancer in men not taking statins, compared to 11 percent among men prescribed the medication after five years. After 8 years, 17 percent taking statins had relapse of the disease, compared to 26 percent of men not taking the drug.

Dr. Zelefsky explains the new study, combined with other “emerging evidence” suggests prostate cancer outcomes might be improved by adding statin drugs for men receiving radiation treatment for the disease.

Cholesterol lowering drugs are believed to control tumor growth and metastasis. The new study, published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, suggests statins might make radiation therapy more successful.

International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics: doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2009.12.006
"Improved Biochemical Outcomes With Statin Use in Patients With High-Risk Localized Prostate Cancer Treated With Radiotherapy"
Marisa A. Kollmeier M.D., Matthew S. Katz M.D., Kimberley Mak, Yoshiya Yamada M.D., F.R.C.P.C., David J. Feder B.A., Zhigang Zhang Ph.D, Xiaoyu Jia M.S, Weiji Shi M.S. and Michael J. Zelefsky M.D.