Statin therapy was independently associated with a substantial survival benefit in women with ovarian cancer in an analysis of the linked Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results and Medicare databases.
“This is the largest series ever reported supporting the anticancer effect of statin therapy on epithelial ovarian cancer with a concomitant improvement in overall survival. A prospective study in ovarian cancer patients is warranted. Identification of biomarkers that may predict response to statins would help further select patient populations and guide therapy,” Dr. Tilley Jenkins Vogel said in presenting the study results at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology.
She and her coinvestigators at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles identified 1,510 women in the SEER registry who were diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer during 2007-2009, underwent primary surgical resection, and survived for at least 60 days post surgery. Forty-nine percent were stage III, 25% stage IV. Forty-two percent of the women were on a statin.
Mean overall survival in the statin users was 32.2 months compared to 28.7 months in nonusers. In the stage III cohort, mean overall survival in statin users versus nonusers was 31.7 and 25.9 months.
In a multivariate analysis adjusted for potential confounders of age, race, heart disease and other comorbid conditions prior to cancer diagnosis, and the use of platinum-based chemotherapy, statin therapy was independently associated with a 34% reduction in the risk of mortality. In women whose ovarian cancer histology was serous, statin use was associated with a 31% reduction in death; in those with a nonserous histology, it was a 48% reduction, Dr. Vogel continued.
Diving deeper into the dataset, she found that the overall survival benefit was present only in the 89% of statin users who were on lipophilic statins, such as atorvastatin or simvastatin. This is consistent with other investigators’ reports that the noncardiovascular benefits of statin therapy are largely restricted to the lipophilic class of the LDL-lowering agents.
An anti–ovarian cancer benefit for statin therapy appears to have biologic plausibility, according to Dr. Vogel. She and her coworkers have previously shown synergistic cytotoxicity in vitro when statins are administered concurrently with platinum chemotherapy.
“This effect is believed to be mediated by greater inhibition of cell proliferation, increased apoptosis, and modification of proteins in the RAS pathway,” she said.
Rapidly growing cells, such as cancer cells, require cholesterol to synthesize cell membrane. It’s hypothesized that one mechanism for statins’ anticancer effect is that by reducing intracellular cholesterol levels the drugs interfere with this process, Dr. Vogel noted.
She reported having no financial conflicts regarding this study, conducted without commercial support.
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