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Effect of statins on breast cancer recurrence and mortality: a review

Authors Van Wyhe RD, Rahal OM, Woodward WA

Received 2 August 2017

Accepted for publication 11 October 2017

Published 1 December 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 559—565


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Pranela Rameshwar

Renae D Van Wyhe,1,2 Omar M Rahal,1 Wendy A Woodward1

1Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 2Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA

Abstract: Statins, or 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors, are medications that have been used for decades to lower cholesterol and to prevent or treat cardiovascular diseases. Since their approval by the US Food and Drug Administration in the 1980s, other potential uses for statins have been speculated on and explored. Basic science and clinical research suggest that statins are also effective in the management of breast cancer. Specifically, in various breast cancer cell lines, statins increase apoptosis and radiosensitivity, inhibit proliferation and invasion, and decrease the metastatic dissemination of tumors. Clinical trials in breast cancer patients support these laboratory findings by demonstrating improved local control and a mortality benefit for statin users. A role for statins in the management of aggressive breast cancers with poor outcomes – namely, inflammatory breast cancer and triple-negative breast cancer – is particularly implicated. However, data exist showing that statins may actually promote invasive breast disease after long-term use and thus should be prescribed cautiously. Furthermore, a general consensus on the type of statin that should be administered, for how long, and when in relation to time of diagnosis is lacking. Given their low toxicity profile, affordability, and ease of use, consideration of statins as a therapy for breast cancer patients is imminent. In this review, we summarize current evidence regarding statins and clinical breast cancer outcomes, as well as discuss potential future studies that could shed light on this increasingly relevant topic.

Keywords: statins, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, locoregional recurrence

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