Beta blockers, spread of breast cancer may be linked
With October being breast cancer awareness month, UK cancer research scientists conducted a study examining whether beta blockers help control the spread of breast cancer and improve the chances of survival. Beta blockers are usually used to treat high blood pressure and anxiety.
Cancer Research UK recently funded Dr Des Powe from the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust in his research regarding beta blockers and breast cancer. He investigated whether beta blockers prevent recurrence of any kind of cancer or whether it helped breast cancer patients survive longer. Other scientists from Belfast, Northern Ireland and Germany collaborated on the research.
The Oncotarget, a medical journal, did a similar but more limited study in 2010 when they found that breast cancer patients who took beta blockers before they had surgery had a longer survival rate than those who did not take beta blockers before their surgery. The study was small, studying only 466 patients.
Powe based and continued his study on early discoveries in the laboratory that showed a biological mechanism that can stop the movement of cells ahead of time and prevents the spread of cancer with beta-blockers.
Approximately 30 percent of all breast cancers metastasize, and these cancers make up around 90 percent of all breast cancer deaths. One of the priorities of breast cancer research is finding a way to stop the spread of breast cancer through metastasizing.
"Cancer can be thought of as having two distinct phases - before and after the disease has spread. Many women will be successfully treated for their initial breast tumor but in some, the original tumor leaves a legacy - a daughter of the primary cancer. This means cells leave the original tumor and move around the body in a process called metastasis.,” he said.
“It is absolutely crucial to conquer cancer spread if we are to really improve breast cancer survival as this problem causes nearly all deaths from the disease,” he added. “So it's very exciting that we have been funded by Cancer Research UK to take this work further and see whether beta-blockers really do improve survival in a large population of breast cancer patients. This study will be sufficiently large to determine whether we should progress to clinical trials and identify which type of beta-blockers have the strongest effect."