Patients with non-small-cell lung cancer survive longer if they are taking beta-blockers while receiving radiotherapy, according to a study of 722 patients published in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology  today (Wednesday).
Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, USA) reviewed the progress and outcomes of patients who had received radiotherapy as their main or first line of treatment for cancer (known as "definitive radiotherapy" i.e. radiotherapy that is delivered at doses of 60 Gy or more, with the intention of curing the disease).
They found that 155 patients who were on beta-blockers for other conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, survived for an average of 23.7 months compared to the 567 patients who were not on beta-blockers, who survived for an average of 18.6 months an improvement in survival of 22% after adjusting for other factors such as age, stage of the disease, whether or not chemotherapy was given at the same time, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the use of aspirin.
Beta-blocker use was also associated with improvements in survival without the disease spreading to other parts of the body (distant metastasis-free survival) and survival without the disease recurring (disease-free survival). Beta-blockers made no difference in the length of time a patient survived without the disease progressing in the part of the lungs where it had first occurred (locoregional progression-free survival).
Assistant Professor Dr Daniel Gomez, at the Department of Radiation Oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, said: "Despite recent improvements in radiotherapy and chemotherapy for non-small-cell-lung cancer, the prognosis of this disease is poor, with less than 15% of patients surviving for five years after diagnosis. A major cause of death is the process of metastasis, when cancer cells travel from the original tumour to other parts of the body.
|Contact: Emma Mason (media enquiries only)|
European Society for Medical Oncology