A new study has revealed that a certain type of blood pressure drugs may help ovarian cancer patients survive the disease longer. The finding has made field experts hopeful that they can develop more efficient treatments.
A group of researchers looked at over 1.400 women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and saw that the ones who took a type of blood pressure drugs referred to as beta blockers managed to survive the disease longer.
What’s more, older, non-selective beta blockers proved to be even more effective than newer, selective beta blockers. Women who were using non-selective beta blockers lived an average of eight (8) years after receiving their diagnosis. But women who were not using beta blockers of any kind only lived an average of three (3) years after receiving their diagnosis.
It’s important to mention that the conclusions are interpretable for the time being. The experts reached them not by conducting their own tests and experiments, but by simply reviewing some patient records from previous studies. This approach can not provide definitive proof that a specific treatment works.
The next step for the research team is to conduct clinical trials and randomly assign standard treatments and beta blockers to ovarian cancer patients.
Dr. Anil Sood, field expert working at the University of Texas, the Anderson Cancer Center (Houston), and senior researcher on the study, offered a statement informing that “You need to be very cautious about retrospective data like this. We still need clinical trials”.
It the results show that beta blockers can really help women who have ovarian cancer live longer, then the researchers can start investigating questions such as “which particular women would benefit more from taking beta blockers?”, “what would the ideal dose of beta blockers look like?” and “once ovarian cancer patients start their treatment, at what point should they be given beta blockers?”.
Dr. Christina Annunziata, co-author of the editorial accompanying the new study and US National Cancer Institute researcher, offered a statement of her own, stressing that doctors first need to know for a fact whether or not it’s safe for women who have ovarian cancer to take beta blockers.
She went on to explain that “If you don’t have high blood pressure and you take a drug that lowers blood pressure, [then] that could be dangerous”.
The situation is a delicate one as ovarian cancer is already one of the deadliest cancers that people can develop. It’s notorious for spreading well beyond the ovaries and for not being discovered while it’s in one of the early stages.
The American Cancer Society has informed that just about 45 percent (45%) of women who have ovarian cancer are still alive five years (5) after being diagnosed with the disease.
Dr. Sood also offered one possible explanation why beta blockers may be effective in treating ovarian cancer. He believes that they might be blocking the effects that epinephrine (adrenaline) has. This is a stress hormone that’s known for helping ovarian tumors grow and spread.
The study was published earlier this week, on August 24, 2015, in the medical journal Cancer.
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