Statin therapy lowers mortality rates among Danish prostate cancer patients

According to a media release and a presentation given at the European Association of Urology (EAU) in Europe this week, statin therapy has a small but significant impact on overall and prostate cancer-specific mortality rates. The EAU’s media release includes an overview of the relevant data as well as the actual abstract of the paper presented by Larsen et al.

According to the study’s abstract, relevant data from all men diagnosed with prostate cancer in Denmark between 1997 and 2012 were extracted from the Danish Cancer Registry and other national databases. Study subjects were followed after a minimum of 12 months from their diagnosis of prostate cancer until death, migration out of Denmark, or the end of the study (on December 31, 2013).

Larsen et al. report that:

  • 31,790 prostate cancer patients were identified in total.
  • 7,365/31,790 men (23.2 percent) died of prostate cancer within the study’s time frame.
  • 11,811/31,790 men (37.2 percent) died of all causes (prostate cancer included) within the study’s time frame.
  • Follow-up from 1 year after diagnosis was 3.54 ± 2.86 years (range, 1 to 14 years).
  • With regard to statin use,
    • 6,675 patients had used statins within 3 years prior to their diagnosis with prostate cancer.
    • 6,780 patients started to use statins after their prostate cancer diagnosis.
  • Based on the primary, time-varying analysis, compared to non-users,
    • Statin users were 19 percent less likely to die of all causes (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.81).
    • Statin users were 17 percent less likely to die of prostate cancer (HR = 0.83).
  • Similar but less precise, inverse associations were found in the baseline and 5-year conditional survival analyses.

These data from a very large, national set of databases again confirm the potential of treatment with statins as having a significant impact on all-cause and prostate cancer-specific survival among men with prostate cancer. However, we will still need to wait and see whether these data are confirmed by large, ongoing, prospective, randomized clinical trials.

6 Responses

  1. High proportion of men in Denmark diagnosed with prostate cancer and dying of it

    Thanks for this additional piece of evidence that statin use helps us survive prostate cancer.

    I was struck by the high proportion of diagnosed patients who died of prostate cancer: 23.2%. That looks very high by current US levels, where 94% of all diagnosed men are now surviving for fifteen years (relative to their non-diagnosed peers) per statistics from the American Cancer Society.

    Any thoughts?

  2. Yes Jim. I do.

    If you don’t diagnose clinically insignificant prostate cancer that men don’t die from, then it is inevitable that the prostate cancer-specific mortality rate will be much higher than the rate we see in America.

  3. Thanks. Makes sense!

  4. Mike,
    A cancer mortality rate has nothing to do with a cancer diagnosis. It is simply a rate of those that die from the disease in a population. It is expressed as a ratio of deaths of the disease per 100,000 population.

  5. It would be helpful to know which statin(s) was (were) used and which were most effective — any thoughts as to which statin you believe would be most effective?

    My preliminary analysis based on several articles, seemed to suggest that simvastatin was most effective, but I would welcome any thoughts on this.

  6. Dear Tom50:

    I don’t think there are any meaningful data on which of the statins has the greatest impact on prostate cancer-specific or overall survival of prostate cancer patients.

    There is little doubt the the “strongest” widely used statin, i.e., the one that has the greatest effect on lowering of cholesterol levels, is rosuvastatin (Crestor). However, whether that effect on cholesterol levels translates into the greatest effect on survival is utterly unknown at this time.

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