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Beta Blockers May Benefit Breast Cancer Patients

Tied to reduced breast cancer mortality, progression and improved relapse-free survival

WEDNESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with breast cancer, beta-blockers may reduce disease progression and mortality as well as improve relapse-free survival, according to two studies published online May 31 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Thomas I. Barron, Ph.D., of the University of Dublin in Ireland, and colleagues used linked national cancer registry and prescription dispensing data to identify women with a diagnosis of stage I to IV invasive breast cancer. Women taking propranolol (β1/β2 antagonist; 70 subjects) or atenolol (β1 antagonist; 525) in the year before being diagnosed with breast cancer were matched in a 1:2 ratio with women not taking a beta blocker (4,738). Compared to matched nonusers, the investigators found that propranolol users were significantly less likely to present with local tumor invasion or nodal or metastatic involvement at diagnosis, with the probability of breast cancer-specific mortality significantly lower among propranolol users.

In another study, Amal Melhem-Bertrandt, M.D., of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues retrospectively studied 1,413 patients with breast cancer who received neo-adjuvant chemotherapy between 1995 and 2007. Patients taking beta blockers at the start of neoadjuvant therapy were compared with patients not taking beta blockers. The investigators found that beta-blocker intake was associated with significantly better relapse-free survival, but not overall survival, in all patients with breast cancer and in patients with triple negative breast cancer.

"Given these results from the laboratory, and the clinical results from three recent retrospective reports suggesting the potential to limit recurrence of incident tumors, perhaps it is time to consider proof-of-concept trials testing the value of beta-blocker medication in the setting of breast cancer," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

Abstract - Barron
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Abstract - Melhem-Bertrandt
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Editorial (subscription or payment may be required)

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