Cholesterol Drugs May Play a Role in Preventing Breast Cancer Recurrence

Cholesterol-lowering drugs tied to improved survival in some breast cancers
Cholesterol-lowering drugs tied to improved survival in some breast cancers

(HealthDay News) — For women with early-stage, hormone receptor-positive invasive breast cancer, initiation of cholesterol-lowering medication (CLM) during endocrine therapy is associated with improved survival and distant recurrence-free intervals, according to research published online Feb. 13 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Signe Borgquist, M.D., Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a randomized, phase III trial (BIG 1-98) involving 8,010 postmenopausal women with early-stage, hormone receptor-positive invasive breast cancer from 1998 to 2003. At study entry and every six months, systemic levels of total cholesterol and use of CLM were measured up to 5.5 years. The relationships between initiation of CLM during endocrine therapy and outcome were assessed.

The researchers found that cholesterol levels declined during tamoxifen therapy. Most of the 789 patients who initiated CLM during endocrine therapy were from the letrozole monotherapy arm, followed by the sequential tamoxifen-letrozole, letrozole-tamoxifen, and tamoxifen monotherapy arms (318, 189, 176, and 106 patients, respectively). There were correlations between initiation of CLM during endocrine therapy and improved disease-free survival, breast cancer-free interval, and distant recurrence-free interval (hazard ratios, 0.79, 0.76, and 0.74, respectively).

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"Cholesterol-lowering medication during adjuvant endocrine therapy may have a role in preventing breast cancer recurrence in hormone receptor-positive early-stage breast cancer," the authors write. "We recommend that these observational results be addressed in prospective randomized trials."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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