Statins May Help Decrease the Risk for Melanoma Recurrence

Patients taking statins prior to receiving a melanoma diagnosis have a decreased risk of a melanoma recurrence compared with those not taking statins, according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Researchers prospectively assessed 700 patients (mean age, 62 years; 59% were male) newly diagnosed between 2010 and 2014 with localized stage T1b-T4b melanoma in Queensland, Australia. A total of 223 patients (32%) had taken statins for at least three continuous months in the time from two years before until one year after diagnosis; the remaining 474 patients had not taken statins (67%). Statin history was unknown for three patients.

Most (n=204; 92%) who took statins were long-term users, and the most commonly used long-term statin was atorvastatin (n=100; 49%); other statins used were rosuvastain (n=56; 27%), simvastatin (n=36; 18%), and pravastatin (n=7; 4%).

More impact in men, those with ulcerated melanoma

Overall, 94 patients (13%) developed melanoma recurrence within two years. Long-term statin users had a significantly lower risk of disease recurrence compared with non-users (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 0.55; 95% CI, 0.32-0.97). This trend was observed regardless statin subtype or potency.

Risk of recurrence was significantly decreased in men taking statins (adjusted HR, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.19-0.79) but not female statin users (adjusted HR, 0.82; 95% CI 0.29-2.27). A reduction in disease recurrence was significant in statin users with ulcerated primary melanoma (adjusted HR, 0.17; 95% CI, 0.05-0.52), but this was not observed among statin users with non-ulcerated primary melanoma (adjusted HR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.46-1.81).

Two-year recurrence-free survival (RFS) was 89% among statin users and 85% among non-users (P=0.20). Statin use had the greatest impact on two-year RFS in males with ulcerated melanomas: RFS was 65% among non-users versus 91% for regular users (P<0.0001).

“Clinical trial evaluation of the potential role of statins in improving the prognosis of high-risk melanoma is warranted,” the researchers concluded.