Statin drugs may delay prostate cancer progression in combination with androgen deprivation therapy

A clinical trial conducted by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (MA, USA) has reported that prostate cancer patients who took cholesterol-lowering statins alongside the start of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), experienced a longer controlled-disease period compared with prostate cancer patients who did not take statins. The trial results, published recently in JAMA Oncology, suggest that statins could delay prostate cancer growth in patients receiving ADT.

A total of 926 patients were involved in the study, 70% of whom experienced disease progression over a 6-year period. Overall, the group of patients taking statins alongside ADT experienced a median of 27.5 months before the prostate cancer began to deteriorate. In comparison, prostate cancer patients who did not take statins reported a median of 17.4 months.

Lauren Harshman of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at Dana-Farber and first author of the study commented: “This median 10-month benefit in delaying disease progression suggests that statins could be a valuable addition to our current therapies for prostate cancer. These results are supported by multiple prior epidemiologic studies demonstrating that statin use may be associated with improved outcomes in prostate cancer, but require validation.”

The current frontline therapy for hormone-sensitive prostate cancer patients, ADT, works by reducing the amount of androgen and testosterone hormones in the body. This trial was the result of prior laboratory studies that examined the SLCO2B1 protein, which aids the entry of drugs and hormones including DHEAS, a precursor of testosterone, as well as statin drugs into cells.

In laboratory-grown prostate cancer cell lines, statin drugs were discovered to exhibit interference with DHEAS uptake by controlling the availability of SLCO2B1 within a prostate tumor. Thus, statins could prevent DHEAS from entering cancer cells.

The results of the trial suggest that this approach with statins could slow cancer progression and improve patient outcomes in hormone-sensitive prostate cancer. However, further studies are required to validate the findings in larger patient cohorts.

Sources: Kantoff PW, Harshman LC, Wang X et al. Statin Use at the Time of Initiation of Androgen Deprivation Therapy and Time to Progression in Patients With Hormone-Sensitive Prostate Cancer. JAMA Oncology DOI: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.0829 (2015); Dana-Farber Institute press release