Drugs taken before surgery may reduce metastatic recurrence

Researchers have identified a drug regimen administered prior to and after surgery that significantly reduces the risk of post-surgical cancer recurrence…


Researchers have identified a specific drug regimen administered prior to and after surgery that significantly reduces the risk of post-surgical cancer recurrence, this combination of a beta blocker and an anti-inflammatory, may also improve the long-term survival rates of patients.

“We’ve taken an unconventional approach, deviating from the current medical dogma that refrains from intervening during the short period surrounding a cancer surgery — no chemo, radio or immune therapy for at least three weeks before or after surgery,” said Professor Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu of Tel Aviv University study (TAU’s) School of Psychological Sciences. “Even within the medical establishment, we encountered some levels of disbelief and antagonism. But after conducting ample studies in animal models of cancer, and reviewing the medical literature, we came to the firm conclusion that maybe this is the most important period in the prevention of cancer recurrence.”

Breast cancer patients at Sheba Medical Centre, Kaplan Medical Centre and Rabin Medical Centre were given Deralin and Etopan five days before their surgeries, the day of their surgeries and five days after their surgeries. Blood and tumour tissue samples were then analysed using whole genome gene expression profiling to identify all the RNAs expressed in malignant cells and leukocytes.

“We found that the drugs were very efficient in reducing biomarkers of metastatic processes,” Prof Ben-Eliyahu said. “For example, we found that the drug treatment reverses EMT — the process that tumour cells go through to slip out of the primary tumour and enter another organ. It is a crucially important step in the metastatic process. We also looked at indices related to the immune system and were able to improve immune competence and reduce inflammation with the drugs.”

The researchers are currently considering a larger-scale clinical trial to establish the clinical long-term beneficial effects of this treatment. “Positive outcomes should validate this treatment and lead to its becoming available for most cancer patients,” Prof Ben-Eliyahu concluded.