Background: Preclinical studies have shown that norepinephrine can directly stimulate tumor cell migration and that this effect is mediated by the beta-adrenergic receptor.
Patients and methods: We retrospectively reviewed 722 patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who received definitive radiotherapy (RT). A Cox proportional hazard model was utilized to determine the association between beta-blocker intake and locoregional progression-free survival (LRPFS), distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS), disease-free survival (DFS), and overall survival (OS).
Results: In univariate analysis, patients taking beta-blockers (n = 155) had improved DMFS (P < 0.01), DFS (P < 0.01), and OS (P = 0.01), but not LRPFS (P = 0.33) compared with patients not taking beta-blockers (n = 567). In multivariate analysis, beta-blocker intake was associated with a significantly better DMFS [hazard ratio (HR), 0.67; P = 0.01], DFS (HR, 0.74; P = 0.02), and OS (HR, 0.78; P = 0.02) with adjustment for age, Karnofsky performance score, stage, histology type, concurrent chemotherapy, radiation dose, gross tumor volume, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the use of aspirin. There was no association of beta-blocker use with LRPFS (HR = 0.91, P = 0.63).
Conclusion: Beta-blocker use is associated with improved DMFS, DFS, and OS in this large cohort of NSCLC patients. Future prospective trials can validate these retrospective findings and determine whether the length and timing of beta-blocker use influence survival outcomes.