June 3rd, 2010

Statin Use May Lower Risk of Prostate Cancer Recurrence


It appears that, among men who have undergone radiation therapy for early prostate cancer, use of statins may lower risk of recurrence, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The prostate is a male sex gland responsible for producing fluid that forms semen. It is located below the bladder, in front of the rectum, and surrounds the urethra. Prostate cancer occurs when the cells in the prostate gland grow out of control. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer (other than skin cancer) diagnosed in men in the United States.

Statins are drugs that are commonly used to treat high cholesterol levels. Recent research has indicated that regular use of statins may help to reduce the risk of certain cancers, including prostate cancer. Research continues to explore the relationship between statins and the incidence of various cancers.

The current study evaluated whether statin use could reduce the risk of prostate cancer recurrence among men who had received radiation therapy (RT) for localized or locally advanced prostate cancer. Researchers evaluated 691 men, who were treated for prostate cancer between 1988 and 2006. Of the participants, 189 were using statins. The following results were observed at a median follow-up of 50 months after RT.

Statin use was associated with a reduced risk of recurrence, as detected by a rise in prostate specific antigen levels; a reduced risk of needing additional (or “salvage”) androgen deprivation therapy (ADT); and improved relapse-free survival. The reduced risk of recurrence associated with statin use was seen among patients at low-, intermediate-, and high-risk of recurrence and was not affected by ADT or dose of RT.

The researchers concluded that statin use was associated with a reduced risk of recurrence of prostate cancer among men who had undergone RT. Whether this risk reduction is the direct result of the statin drugs themselves or of their cholesterol-lowering effects remains to be determined. Because this was not a randomized trial, it’s also possible that factors other than statin use may explain the lower recurrence risk among statin users. Additional studies of this question are necessary.

Reference: Gutt R, Tonlaar N, Kunnavakkam R, et al. Statin use and risk of prostate cancer recurrence in men treated with radiation therapy. Journal of Clinical Oncology [early online publication]. April 26, 2010.


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