Statin use in patients with kidney cancer improved cancer-specific survival and overall survival, according to the results of a meta-analysis published recently in Cancer Treatment Reviews. There was, however, no effect on recurrence-free or progression-free survival.1

“We found that patients with kidney cancer using statins had a 33% reduced risk of death from kidney cancer and 26% reduced risk of death from any cause, compared to patients not using statins. But there was no significant association between statin use and kidney cancer progression or recurrence,” study researcher Madhur Nayan, MD, of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network and the University of Toronto, Canada, told Cancer Therapy Advisor. “While statins were in the protective direction for progression or recurrence, we feel that our study could not find a significant association, as there were very few studies evaluating progression or recurrence.”

According to Dr Nayan, researchers are increasingly interested in statins as a potential anti-cancer drug, as many studies show that their use reduces cancer-related mortality. Yet studies of statins evaluating kidney cancer have had conflicting results. With this study, Dr Nayan and colleagues aimed to combine the results from existing studies in kidney cancer to offer summary estimates.

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The researchers conducted a systematic review of studies evaluating the association between statin use and kidney cancer survival outcomes. Trials analyzing statin use and survival outcomes of cancer in general were included if there were data specific to kidney cancer outcomes available. They identified 12 studies that included data from 18,105 patients. All included studies were either randomized controlled trials or observational studies. The majority of studies were considered to be at low risk for bias.

Statin use had no significant effect on recurrence-free survival (pooled hazard ratio [HR], 0.97; 95% CI, 0.89-1.06) or progression-free survival (pooled HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.51-1.65). In contrast, the use of statins was associated with significant improvements in both cancer-specific survival (pooled HR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.47-0.94) and overall survival (pooled HR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.63-0.88).

Studies to date suggest that patients with kidney cancer using statins have a reduced risk of death from cancer or any cause compared with patients with kidney cancer who do not use statins, but based on available data, Dr Nayan said it would be difficult to make any strong clinical recommendations.

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“Most studies included in our review compared any statin use to no statin use during a specific time period and then followed patients over time for survival outcomes,” Dr Nayan said. “This method of classifying medication use can be problematic if patients considered ‘users’ discontinue use during follow-up, or vice-versa.”

Further researcher considering intermittent or cumulative use is needed to confirm whether statins improve survival outcomes in kidney cancer. 


  1. Nayan M, Punjani N, Juurlink DN, et al. Statin use and kidney cancer survival outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer Treat Rev. 2016 Nov 26. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2016.11.009 [Epub ahead of print]