Use of non-cancer drugs and survival among patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma: a nationwide registry-based study in Norway
One source of evidence to see if a non-cancer drug might have some anticancer effects comes from medical databases and registries. People with cancer are like everyone else in that they also suffer other conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc. If we compare cancer patients treated with different drugs to those not treated with those drugs we can see if there is a difference in survival. Working with colleagues from the Cancer Registry of Norway, Gauthier Bouche and Pan Pantziarka of the Anticancer Fund have investigated the effects of different drugs on pancreatic cancer patients.
The results, as reported in a new paper ‘Use of non-cancer drugs and survival among patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma: a nationwide registry-based study in Norway’ (Støer et al, Acta Oncologica), show that patients treated with statins and non-selective beta blockers had better survival than pancreatic cancer patients not treated with those drugs. There were no significant differences for other drugs which were investigated, for example the anti-diabetic drug metformin.
This kind of study provides support for further investigation rather than as out-right proof that something works. While the data is clear that there is an association the data is messy and there may be other factors at work in the results. Randomised clinical trials are needed to test whether there’s a causal effect between statin or beta-blocker use and improved pancreatic cancer survival.
Have a look at our recent Request for Application in High Impact Clinical Trials in Pancreatic and Biliary Tract Cancer. The final selection is expected to be communicated on 20 December 2021.
Find out more about drug repurposing here.