Statins May Vex Bladder Cancer Therapy
Study: Stopping Statins During BCG Therapy for Bladder Cancer Might Help
Dec. 21, 2006 -- Some bladder
cancer patients may fare better if they're not taking
cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, Belgian doctors say.
Their findings focus only on bladder cancer patients getting
immunotherapy with the bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine.
BCG is injected into the bladder after the tumor has been removed to reduce
the chance of bladder cancer recurrence. Immunotherapy revs up the body's
immune system to help fight cancer.
The Belgian doctors included Paul Hoffman, MD, of the Jules Bordet Institute
They reviewed the medical records of 84 bladder cancer patients who had
gotten BCG immunotherapy.
Nineteen of those patients were taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
They were 70 years old, on average -- seven years older than the average age of
the patients not taking statins.
The researchers followed the patients' medical records for nearly four
years, on average, after BCG treatment.
During that time, those taking statins weren't more likely to have a bladder
But bladder cancer tumors became more aggressive in about half (53%, or 10
patients) of those taking statins, compared with nearly one in five (18%, or 12
patients) in those not taking statins.
The statin takers were also more likely to have their bladders surgically
Eight patients taking statins (42%) had their bladders removed, compared
with 9 patients (14%) in those not taking statins.
The study doesn't prove that statins were responsible for those results.
However, "our observations suggest that the discontinuation of statin
therapy during BCG immunotherapy might improve the clinical outcome," the
If you're taking BCG therapy for bladder cancer and have questions about
statin use, consult your doctor before making any changes in your cholesterol