Beta Blockers could stop breast cancer spreading

September 30, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Cancer Research UK scientists are investigating whether beta-blockers hold the key to preventing breast cancer spread and improving survival. Promising early results will be presented on the eve of breast cancer awareness month at the Royal Society of Medicine, today (Friday).

Dr Des Powe, from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, working in collaboration with scientists from Belfast and Germany, has recently been funded by Cancer Research UK to find out whether women who take beta-blockers – drugs routinely used to treat high blood pressure and anxiety – before and during their treatment are less likely to have a cancer recurrence and if they survive for longer.

Previously, in the first ever study of beta blockers and breast cancer, published last year in the journal Oncotarget, the researchers found that out of 466 breast cancer patients – those taking beta blockers before their operation for breast cancer were less likely to die several years after their treatment.

This research built on early findings in the laboratory that showed a biological mechanism by which beta-blockers can stop cells moving and cancer from spreading.

Breast cancer spread is the biggest cause of death from the disease – it’s thought that around 30 per cent of breast cancers spread and yet these account for up to 90 per cent of all deaths from the disease. So it’s vitally important to find new and effective ways of stopping cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body.

Dr Des Powe, Cancer Research UK-funded scientist from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Cancer can be thought of as having two distinct phases - before and after the disease has spread. Many women will be successfully treated for their initial breast tumour but in some, the original tumour leaves a legacy – a daughter of the primary cancer. This means cells leave the original tumour and move around the body in a process called metastasis.

“It is absolutely crucial to conquer cancer spread if we are to really improve breast cancer as this problem causes nearly all deaths from the disease. So it’s very exciting that we have been funded by Cancer Research UK to take this work further and see whether beta blockers really do improve survival in a large population of breast cancer patients. This study will be sufficiently large to determine whether we should progress to clinical trials and identify which type of beta-blockers have the strongest effect.

Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “As are already a known drug this could be a very interesting development, which has the potential to save a large number of lives and we hope to have to see study results within the next year.”

Explore further: People fear cancer more than other serious illness

More information: Beta-blocker drug therapy reduces secondary cancer formation in breast cancer and improves cancer specific survival. Oncotarget. 2010 Nov;1(7):628-38.

Related Stories

People fear cancer more than other serious illness

August 16, 2011
More than a third of people in the UK fear cancer more than other life-threatening conditions – such as Alzheimer’s, stroke and heart disease according to a Cancer Research UK survey.

Scientists discover how antibiotic molecule found in bacteria stops breast cancer

August 22, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists have discovered how a molecule that was first discovered in bacteria blocks a protein which causes breast cancer to develop and spread, reveals research published in Nature Chemistry today.

Recommended for you

Researchers release first draft of a genome-wide cancer 'dependency map'

July 27, 2017
In one of the largest efforts to build a comprehensive catalog of genetic vulnerabilities in cancer, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified more than 760 genes ...

Cancer-death button gets jammed by gut bacterium

July 27, 2017
Researchers at Michigan Medicine and in China showed that a type of bacterium is associated with the recurrence of colorectal cancer and poor outcomes. They found that Fusobacterium nucleatum in the gut can stop chemotherapy ...

Long-sought mechanism of metastasis is discovered in pancreatic cancer

July 27, 2017
Cells, just like people, have memories. They retain molecular markers that at the beginning of their existence helped guide their development. Cells that become cancerous may be making use of these early memories to power ...

Blocking the back-door that cancer cells use to escape death by radiotherapy

July 27, 2017
A natural healing mechanism of the body may be reducing the efficiency of radiotherapy in breast cancer patients, according to a new study.

Manmade peptides reduce breast cancer's spread

July 27, 2017
Manmade peptides that directly disrupt the inner workings of a gene known to support cancer's spread significantly reduce metastasis in a mouse model of breast cancer, scientists say.

Glowing tumor technology helps surgeons remove hidden cancer cells

July 27, 2017
Surgeons were able to identify and remove a greater number of cancerous nodules from lung cancer patients when combining intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) - through the use of a contrast agent that makes tumor cells ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.