News | Cardio-oncology | July 29, 2019

Statins Reduce Stroke, Cardiovascular Risk in Cancer Patients Following Radiation

Cancer patients who took statin medication had a 32 percent reduction in stroke following radiation therapy to the chest, head or neck

Statins Reduce Stroke, Cardiovascular Risk in Cancer Patients Following Radiation

July 29, 2019 — Cancer patients taking cholesterol-lowering statin medication following radiation therapy of the chest, neck or head had significantly reduced risk of suffering a stroke, and possibly other cardiovascular complications, according to new research. The research appeared in Journal of the American Heart Association.

This is the first large study to explore whether statins reduce cardiovascular complications in patients who have radiation therapy for chest, head or neck cancer.

More than half of cancer patients are treated with radiation therapy, which uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. While radiation treatment has become more precise and long-term survival rates have improved, the radiation can affect nearby healthy cells and cause side effects many years later.

Radiation therapy side effects include scarring or thickening of arteries, and over time that can lead to blockages that cause heart attack and stroke. In fact, the authors point out that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of illness and death among cancer survivors.

The newly published study looked at whether statin medication, which reduces the formation of plaques that block blood vessels, might lower the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease after radiation therapy to the chest, neck or head. The researchers found that the use of statins was associated with a 32 percent reduction in stroke.

There was also a strong trend toward reduction in overall cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and stroke, and death due to those cardiovascular events. The authors said, however, that the 15 percent reduction they found was not statistically significant due to the high-risk population of patients in the study.

“Statins decrease cholesterol levels and have anti-inflammatory properties. Multiple studies have revealed the beneficial effects of statin therapy on reducing the risks of vascular disease in a variety of populations,” said study author Negar Mousavi, M.D., M.H.Sc., at McGill University Health Center in Montreal, Canada. “Statins are protective in patients with heart disease, previous strokes and with high cholesterol levels.”

For the study, the researchers studied data from 5,718 heart attack and stroke patients over age 65 (with a mean age of 75) at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada, who had undergone radiation therapy for chest, head or neck cancer from 2000 to 2011. The majority — 4,166 patients — were taking statins. Most of the people in the study had underlying cardiovascular disease.

“Our study demonstrated that statin therapy could be favorable even with the competing risks of cancer and cancer-related mortality in patients who received radiation therapy,” said Mousavi who added, “No other agent is recommended with enough evidence to reduce the risk of vascular events among cancer patients receiving radiation to the head, neck or chest.”

However, the authors point out that there is a need for prospective studies to explore the role of statins after radiation therapy in wider populations and to establish definitive guidelines on the management of radiation-induced vascular disease.

Co-authors are Jacinthe Boulet, M.D.; Jessica Pena, M.D.; Edward A. Hulten, M.D.; Tomas G. Neilan, M.D.; Alice Dragomir, M.D.; Carolyn Freeman, M.D.; Christine Lambert, M.D.; Tarek Hijal, M.D.; Lyne Nadeau, M.D.; and James M. Brophy, M.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

For more information: www.ahajournals.org/journal/jaha

 

Reference

1. Boulet J., Peña J., Hulten E.A., et al. Statin Use and Risk of Vascular Events Among Cancer Patients After Radiotherapy to the Thorax, Head, and Neck. Journal of the American Heart Association, June 19, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.117.005996

Related Content

Scientists have identified two subtypes of metastatic prostate cancer that respond differently to treatment, information that could one day guide physicians in treating patients with the therapies best suited to their disease.

Getty Images

News | Prostate Cancer | September 24, 2021
September 24, 2021 — Scientists have identified two subtypes of metastatic...
Owkin, a startup that deploys artificial intelligence (AI) and Federated Learning technologies to augment medical research and enable scientific discoveries, presented findings in Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) with Cleveland Clinic at the 2021 European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) conference.

Illustration courtesy of Cleveland Clinic

News | Artificial Intelligence | September 24, 2021
September 24, 2021 — Owkin, a startup that deploys...
The "Global Surface Guided Radiation Therapy (SGRT) Devices Market, By Device Type (Portable v/s Fixed), By Application (Breast Cancer, Head & Neck Cancer, Abdominal & Pelvic Cancer, Dermatology, Others), By End User, By Region, Competition Forecast & Opportunities, 2026" report

Image courtesy of Varian

News | Radiation Therapy | September 24, 2021
September 24, 2021 — The ...
The National Cancer Institute announced that Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center and City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center secured a highly competitive Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant that aims to address lung cancer racial disparities through precision medicine, targeted smoking cessation programs and community outreach.

VCU Massey Cancer Center director and SPORE principal investigator Dr. Robert Winn explains how this grant will help combat racial inequities in lung cancer. Image courtesy of VCU Massey Cancer Center

News | Lung Imaging | September 23, 2021
September 23, 2021 — The National Cancer Institute announced tha
The development of new research guidelines for interventional oncology that standardize treatment outcomes and the reporting of data represents a major step forward for an increasingly important medical subspecialty, according to a report in Radiology.

Getty Images

News | Radiation Oncology | September 21, 2021
September 21, 2021 — The development of new research guidelines for interventional oncology that standardize treatmen
Non-oncology doctors’ knowledge of oncology is frequently not up to date, with risks in the communication with patients  

Getty Images

News | Radiation Oncology | September 20, 2021
September 20, 2021 — The rapid pace of developments in the oncology field, mainly brought by cancer immunotherapy, me
IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A., EURONEXT), a world leader in particle accelerator technology, and SCK CEN (Belgian Nuclear Research Center) announced a strategic R&D partnership to enable the production of Actinimum-225 (225Ac), a novel radioisotope which has significant potential in the treatment of cancer.
News | Radiation Oncology | September 17, 2021
September 17, 2021 — IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A., EURONEXT), a world leader in particle accelerator technology, a
Evaluation of therapeutic efficacy of drug candidates in preclinical oncology with positron emission tomography (PET)

Getty Images

Feature | PET Imaging | September 14, 2021 | By Todd Sasser, Ph.D.