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Published on 29 October 2008

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Statins could mislead cancer tests


Doctors could be missing prostate cancer in some patients because cholesterol-lowering statins may be confusing the results of certain test, experts have warned.

A US study found that men taking statins experienced a significant drop in blood levels of a prostate-cancer biomarker.

This could lead to misleading results from prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests carried out as part of cancer screening.

Some studies have suggested that statins may protect against prostate cancer or slow progression of the disease.

However, experts warn the fact that statins lower PSA does not necessarily mean they have a biological effect on the cancer itself.

The warning was issued by researchers led by Dr Stephen Freedland from Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, New Carolina.

He wrote in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute: “The PSA declines with statin use that we observed may represent objective evidence of statins influence on prostate biology in support of epidemiological studies suggesting statins reduce overall or advanced prostate cancer risk.

“More importantly, this PSA decline, if confirmed in future studies, may complicate prostate cancer screening, because cancers may be missed due to the lower PSA levels, and this fact should be kept in mind when evaluating men taking statins.”

Copyright PA Business 2008

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

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