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Can Statins Improve Outcomes in Patients With Triple-Negative Breast Cancer?

By: Myles Starr
Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

A study published in Cancer suggests that cholesterol-lowering statins may improve survival rates for patients with triple-negative breast cancer. Women with stage I, II, and III triple-negative disease seemed to obtain both an overall survival and breast cancer–specific survival benefit with the initiation of statin therapy in the 12 months after a breast cancer diagnosis. However, no such benefit was observed with statin use in patients without triple-negative breast cancer.

“We know that statins decrease breast cancer cell division and increase cell death,” remarked Kevin T. Nead, MD, MPhil, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, in an institutional press release. “Our study shows that there is an association between statins and improved outcomes in triple-negative breast cancer, and it is time to pursue this idea further in a prospective trial.”

The 2007–2015 study included 23,192 Texan Medicare patients, all of whom were at least 66 years old, with stage I to III breast cancer. In this group, 2,281 patients started taking statins within 12 months of their cancer diagnosis. Most patients (78.1%) who were incident statin users were White.

Researchers found a 58% relative improvement in breast cancer–specific survival (standardized hazard ratio [HR] = 0.42; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.20–0.88; P = .022) and a 30% relative improvement in overall survival (HR = 0.70; 95% CI = 0.50–0.99; P = .046) with statin use among patients with triple-negative breast cancer (n = 1,534). However, of note, no such association was observed with either survival outcome among those without triple-negative breast cancer (n = 15,979). The median follow-up was 3.3 years for breast cancer–specific survival and 4.4 years for overall survival. For patients with triple-negative breast cancer, researchers found a statistically significant association between lipophilic statins (eg, simvastatin, atorvastatin, lovastatin, fluvastatin, and pitavastatin) and improved overall survival.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com.



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