Laird Harrison

May 15, 2013

SAN DIEGO, California — Statin use could reduce the risk for progression in renal cell carcinoma, a new study suggests.

"Statin use is independently associated with improved survival in patients undergoing surgery for renal cell carcinoma," said Samuel Kaffenberger, MD, a researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Kaffenberger and colleagues found that statin users were 57% less likely to die from the disease during the study period than nonusers.

He presented the findings here at the American Urological Association 2013 Annual Scientific Meeting.

Previous research has shown that statin use correlates to a decreased incidence of renal cell carcinoma and prostate cancer, and to improved outcomes in renal cell carcinoma and ovarian, breast, and other cancers.

But Dr. Kaffenberger's team was not able to find any research on the survival of patients who undergo surgery for renal cell carcinoma while taking statins.

To investigate, they evaluated 1011 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for the disease at Vanderbilt.

They looked at multiple factors related to the disease, including statin use, demographics, American Society of Anesthesiologists class, preoperative anemia, hypoalbuminemia and corrected hypercalcemia, pathologic characteristics and metastatic status, procedure performed, transfusion status, body mass index, presence of diabetes, and blood group.

After adjustment, the use of statins remained independently associated with improved disease-specific survival (hazard ratio, 0.43; 95% confidence interval, 0.26 - 0.73; P = .002).

You can't just give everyone statins.

Three-year disease-specific survival was better in statin users than in nonusers (90% vs 83%). That difference between the 2 groups continued out to the 72-month follow-up.

Still, it is too early to conclude that statins protect against the cancer, Dr. Kaffenberger said. "In these single-institution studies, we can just show an association. It would be very reasonable to look at this with a clinical trial."

"You can't just give everyone statins," added coauthor Peter Clark, MD, associate professor of urology at Vanderbilt.

Moderator Scott Eggener, MD, a urologic oncologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, wondered if statins affect other factors that could lead to improved survival in cancer patients, such as lipid profile.

"There are some studies that have looked at adiposity," Dr. Clark noted, but the relation is not clear.

Dr. Clark pointed out that they were not able to determine how long the patients had been using statins before their surgery or how long they continued on the drugs after surgery.

He noted that preventive trials are very expensive because you have to enroll such a large number of people to achieve statistical significance.

Some research has suggested a mechanism by which statins might combat cancer, Dr. Kaffenberger told Medscape Medical News. "When investigators add statins in vitro to renal cancer carcinoma cell lines, they see decreased proliferation and increased death. They are zeroing in on a pathway."

Dr. Kaffenberger and Dr. Eggener have reported no relevant financial relationships. Dr. Clark is a consultant to Galil Medical.

American Urological Association (AUA) 2013 Annual Scientific Meeting: Abstract 1646. Presented May 7, 2013.


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