Long-Term Use of Statins May Reduce Lung Cancer Mortality

Specialty Pharmacy Times, May/June 2015, Volume 6, Issue 3

Patients who have lung cancer who received statins in the year before or after a lung cancer diagnosis saw a reduced risk of death from the disease, according to the results of a recent study. In the study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers analyzed data from approximately 14,000 patients given a lung cancer diagnosis between 1998 and 2009, including mortality data up to 2012.

In patients who survived at least 6 months following their lung cancer diagnosis, those who used statins had a statistically nonsignificant 11% reduction in cancer-specific deaths. In patients who used at least 12 prescriptions of statins, there was a statistically significant 19% reduction in cancer-specific deaths. Patients who used lipophilic statins, such as simvastatin, saw a 19% reduction in lung cancer—specific deaths.

Among all patients who used statins in the year prior to their lung cancer diagnosis, there was a statistically significant 12% reduction in cancer-specific deaths. The researchers noted that outcomes did not vary between patients with non-small cell lung cancer and patients with small cell lung cancer.

“The magnitude of the association was relatively small and, as with all observational studies, there is the possibility of confounding-—meaning that simvastatin users may have differed from simvastatin nonusers in other ways that could have protected them from death from cancer, for which we could not correct,” said study author Chris Cardwell, PhD, in a press release. “However, this finding is worthy of further investigation in observational studies. If replicated in further observational studies, this would provide evidence in favor of conducting a randomized, controlled trial of simvastatin in lung cancer patients.”