Statin drugs can delay prostate cancer progression in patients receiving androgen deprivation therapy

May 07, 2015

Philip Kantoff, MD

Philip Kantoff, MD

Men who went on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs when they began androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer had a longer time in which their disease was under control than did men who didn’t take statins, a clinical trial led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators shows.

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT, also known as “hormone therapy”) reduces the amount of androgen in the body, preventing prostate cancer cells from using it to fuel their growth. For many years, it has been the frontline treatment for patients with hormone-sensitive prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland. In a study published online by JAMA Oncology, the researchers report that men who had been taking statins since the start of ADT went a median of 27.5 months before their disease began to worsen, compared to 17.4 months for men who didn’t take statins. The trial involved 926 patients, 70 percent of whom had their disease progress during a six-year period.

“This median 10-month benefit in delaying disease progression suggests that statins could be a valuable addition to our current therapies for prostate cancer,” says the study’s first author, Lauren Harshman, MD, medical oncologist at the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at Dana-Farber.

“We present a plausible mechanism by which statins may work in prostate cancer by decreasing the tumor’s available androgen pool and thus improving patient outcomes," says the study’s senior author, Philip Kantoff, MD, leader of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology and chief of solid tumor oncology at Dana-Farber. “Further study is required to validate our findings.”

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