Cholesterol drug could help treat prostate cancer that has stopped responding to hormones, study finds

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Medication commonly used to treat blood cholesterol could be used to treat prostate cancer that has stopped responding to hormone treatment, scientists have said.

A clinical trial with 12 participants - conducted by the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre - found that statins slowed tumour growth when given alongside treatment which reduces hormone levels (androgen deprivation therapy).

However, larger clinical trials will need to take place to confirm whether statins could be given alongside androgen deprivation therapy to treat prostate cancer more widely.

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Medication commonly used to treat blood cholesterol could be used to treat prostate cancer that has stopped responding to hormone treatment Medication commonly used to treat blood cholesterol could be used to treat prostate cancer that has stopped responding to hormone treatment
Medication commonly used to treat blood cholesterol could be used to treat prostate cancer that has stopped responding to hormone treatment | Adobe

Professor Hing Leung, of the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow, who led the research, said: “Our study is the first of its kind to show statins having a detectable effect on prostate cancer growth in patients.

“We think statins could stop prostate cancer from making androgens from cholesterol, cutting off a route for cancer to resist androgen deprivation therapy.

“Castration-resistant prostate cancer, when cancer becomes resistant to hormone therapy, is currently very difficult to treat. If further trials are successful, we could use these already-approved medicines very quickly to offer patients better options for treatment.

“We need to test statins in a larger group of patients over a longer period to fully understand the benefits and risks to patients. But this data gives us hope that we could have some more readily-available treatments for prostate cancer in the future.”

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