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From the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium: Statins use may reduce mortality in hepatocellular cancer by 30%


Use of statins in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients may be associated with prolonged overall survival.


Use of statins in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients may be associated with prolonged overall survival, according to a poster session presented at the recent Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, in San Francisco.

Young Kwang Chae, MD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues researched the association between statin use and the outcome of patients with HCC.

“There has been observational studies that statins may reduce the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma,” Dr Chae told Formulary. “Also, there is consistent preclinical studies showing anti-tumor effect of statins across different types of cancers.”

In a retrospective survival analysis using single institution data, Dr Chae and colleagues followed 644 patients diagnosed with pathologically confirmed HCC from 2000 to 2011. Survival analysis was done using Cox regression model.

Drop in mortality

In the HCC cohort of patients, those who took statins in addition to local and systemic therapy or surgical resection had a 30% reduction in mortality versus non-statin users (HR=0.7, 95% CI, 0.5-0.9; P=.03).

The mean age of the HCC cohort was aged 63.1 years; 73.4% were men, and 65.5% were Caucasians. Approximately 70% were diagnosed at TNM stage 3 and 4, and 52.6% had no evidence of hepatitis B or C virus infection. More than 80% had local and systemic therapy, while 18.3% underwent surgical resection. The median overall survival of HCC patients was higher among statin users than non-users at 25.4 months versus 18.5 months (P=.04).

“Even after controlling for various clinical variables including age, sex, race, staging, HCV, HBV, liver cirrhosis, treatment, alcohol use and diabetes, statin use was still associated with favorable overall survival in HCC patients,” the researchers wrote.

“We found that among patients without underlying liver cirrhosis the favorable effect of statins on survival was significant,” Dr Chae said.

 “Statin use may have beneficial role in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. However, this finding has to be validated with a prospective study,” Dr Chae ­concluded. ■

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