Background: The prognosis of pancreatic cancer is poor and new treatment strategies are urgently needed. To identify non-cancer drugs that could be re-purposed for cancer, we investigated the association between the use of selected drugs and cancer-specific mortality in a nationwide cohort of pancreatic cancer patients. Material and methods: The study is based on linkage between the Cancer Registry of Norway and the Norwegian Prescription Database, comprising 2614 pancreatic cancer patients diagnosed between 2007 and 2014. We evaluated the association between use at diagnosis of a pre-defined list of non-cancer drugs, including metformin, antihypertensives, and statins, and pancreatic cancer-specific mortality, using Cox regression. Patients were defined as users of a particular drug if it was prescribed before diagnosis, and the prescription covered the date of diagnosis. Results: In total, 2096 (80.2%) patients died from pancreatic cancer; median survival was 6 months. Statin users (n = 621) had lower mortality (hazard ratio (HR): 0.86; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.76–0.97) compared to non-users (n = 1993). This association was more pronounced (P-heterogeneity 0.062) in users of hydrophilic (n = 37, HR: 0.61; 95% CI 0.42–0.90) than lipophilic (n = 587, HR: 0.87; 95% CI 0.78–0.98) statins. An indication for lower mortality (HR: 0.85; 95% CI 0.69–1.05) was observed in users of non-selective beta-blockers (n = 113) compared to non-users (n = 2501). Notably, when compared to users of other antihypertensives (n = 643), users of non-selective beta-blockers (n = 40) had lower mortality (HR 0.67; 95% CI 0.47–0.96). The use of other drugs, including selective beta-blockers and metformin, was not associated with mortality. Conclusion: The findings suggest an association between the use of statins and non-selective beta-blockers and reduced pancreatic cancer mortality, and add to the literature supporting the design of randomised clinical trials to evaluate those drugs in the management of pancreatic cancer.
- Pancreatic cancer