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Lung cancer patients live longer if they use beta-blockers while receiving radiotherapy
Date:1/8/2013

Therefore, we urgently need to find new ways of blocking the development of metastases in these patients.

"Our results suggest that the use of beta-blockers during radiotherapy may help to prevent the formation of metastases, and could lead directly or indirectly to improved care for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. As far as we are aware, our study is the first analysis to show a survival benefit associated with the use of beta-blockers during definitive radiotherapy in patients with NSCLC. However, prospective studies are needed to investigate these findings further and to discover whether improved survival is affected by when and for how long patients need to take beta-blockers. We are excited about using our study as a starting point for further investigations."

The mechanism underlying the development of metastases is complex, but may involve chronic stress conditions and prolonged exposure to stress hormones. One of these hormones, norepinephrine, has been shown to stimulate the migration of tumour cells to other parts of the body. Receptors on the surface of cells, which beta-blockers are designed to inhibit, are involved in this process.

Professor Zhongxing Liao, from the Department of Radiation Oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, said: "Our findings agree with results from previous studies suggesting that beta-blockers have a specific effect on the cascade of events that lead to metastases. The fact that their use did not affect locoregional progression-free survival suggests that the drugs affect this metastatic cascade rather than the primary tumour."

Patients in the study had been treated with definitive radiotherapy from 1998 to 2010 at the MD Anderson Center. The 155 patients on beta-blockers were taking a range of different types of the drug and at a range of doses depending on the medication and their need. The researchers said there were not enough patients in the study to discover whether the choi
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Contact: Emma Mason (media enquiries only)
wordmason@mac.com
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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