Initiation of a β-adrenergic receptor blocker (β-blocker) at the time of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) diagnosis does not appear to reduce the rate of cancer-specific death, according to the results of a recently published population-based cohort study.

The aim of the study was to determine the association between β-blocker use and lung cancer mortality, as previous research has suggested a link between this drug class and improved survival with other malignancies. “For this retrospectively defined nationwide cohort study, we used prospectively collected data from Swedish population and health registers,” the study authors explained. A total of 18,429 patients with a primary diagnosis of NSCLC between 2006 and 2014 were identified through the Swedish Cancer Register. “Cox regression was used to estimate the association between β-blocker use at time of cancer diagnosis ascertained from the Prescribed Drug Register and cancer-specific mortality identified from the Cause of Death Register,” the study authors stated. 

A total of 14,994 patients died over a median follow-up period of 10.2 months, of which 13,398 died from lung cancer. Findings of the study revealed a slightly higher but statistically significant difference in the cancer-specific mortality (CSM) rate (per 100 person-months) for patients using β-blockers (4.03; 95% CI: 3.90, 4.16) compared with those who were not (3.67; 95% CI: 3.60, 3.75), corresponding to a crude hazard ratio (HR) of 1.06 (95% CI: 1.02, 1.10).  However, the association between β-blocker use and lung cancer mortality was not found to be statistically significant according to multivariable adjusted analyses (HR: 1.01; 95% CI: 0.97, 1.06).  

“Although the data provided evidence for near-null β-blocker-CSM association when β-blockers were assessed in aggregate in the total NSCLC cohort, evidence for some β-blockers is less conclusive, especially in stratified analyses, and deserves further investigation,” the authors concluded. 


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