Clinical trial

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 119, Issue 1, pp 137-144

First online:

Fluvastatin reduces proliferation and increases apoptosis in women with high grade breast cancer

  • Elisabeth R. GarwoodAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of CaliforniaPennsylvania State University College of Medicine
  • , Anjali S. KumarAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of California, East bay
  • , Frederick L. BaehnerAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, University of California
  • , Dan H. MooreAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California
  • , Alfred AuAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, University of California
  • , Nola HyltonAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California
  • , Chris I. FlowersAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California
  • , Judy GarberAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • , Beth-Ann LesnikoskiAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center
    • , E. Shelley HwangAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of California
    • , Olofunmilao OlopadeAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Chicago
    • , Elisa Rush PortAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
    • , Michael CampbellAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of California
    • , Laura J. EssermanAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of CaliforniaCarol F. Buck Breast Care Center Email author 

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The purpose of this study is to determine the biologic impact of short-term lipophilic statin exposure on in situ and invasive breast cancer through paired tissue, blood and imaging-based biomarkers. A perioperative window trial of fluvastatin was conducted in women with a diagnosis of DCIS or stage 1 breast cancer. Patients were randomized to high dose (80 mg/day) or low dose (20 mg/day) fluvastatin for 3–6 weeks before surgery. Tissue (diagnostic core biopsy/final surgical specimen), blood, and magnetic resonance images were obtained before/after treatment. The primary endpoint was Ki-67 (proliferation) reduction. Secondary endpoints were change in cleaved caspase-3 (CC3, apoptosis), MRI tumor volume, and serum C-reactive protein (CRP, inflammation). Planned subgroup analyses compared disease grade, statin dose, and estrogen-receptor status. Forty of 45 patients who enrolled completed the protocol; 29 had paired Ki-67 primary endpoint data. Proliferation of high grade tumors decreased by a median of 7.2% (P = 0.008), which was statistically greater than the 0.3% decrease for low grade tumors. Paired data for CC3 showed tumor apoptosis increased in 38%, remained stable in 41%, and decreased in 21% of subjects. More high grade tumors had an increase in apoptosis (60 vs. 13%; P = 0.015). Serum CRP did not change, but cholesterol levels were significantly lower post statin exposure (P < 0.001). Fluvastatin showed measurable biologic changes by reducing tumor proliferation and increasing apoptotic activity in high-grade, stage 0/1 breast cancer. Effects were only evident in high grade tumors. These results support further evaluation of statins as chemoprevention for ER-negative high grade breast cancers.


Statin(s) Breast cancer DCIS ductal carcinoma in situ HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors Cancer prevention