Possible Link Between High Risk SCC Tumors and Statins in Men

Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma
Study researchers presented their findings at AAD 2021 on the relationship between statin therapy and risk for squamous cell carcinoma tumors in men.

The following article is part of our coverage of the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual meeting (AAD 2021) that is being held virtually from April 23-25, 2021. Dermatology Advisor‘s staff will report on the top research in dermatologic advances and clinical care. Check back for the latest news from AAD 2021.


Adult men taking statins may be at greater risk for larger and more advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) tumors, according to study results presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Virtual Meeting Experience (AAD VMX) 2021, held online from April 23 to April 25, 2021.

This was a retrospective cohort study conducted by researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Investigators retrieved data on 1080 tumors from 707 patients with SCC from2010 to 2018 and gathered information on patient demographics, statin use, and tumor-specific data. Patients with a history of immunosuppression, multiple SCCs, recurrent SCCs, or nodal metastases were excluded. Study researchers stratified the remaining cohort of patients by statin use, tumor size, (<2 or 2 cm) and high or low risk based on Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) staging criteria.

Ultimately, the study included a total of 200 patients in the final analysis; approximately two-thirds were men and a little more than half had a history of current or prior statin use. Overall, there was no significant difference in tumor size or BWH risk between patients with a history of statin use and those without.

When stratified by sex, however, 26.9% of men with a history of statin use had tumors that were at least 2 cm, compared with 11.8% of men without a history of statin use (P =.039), and 24.4% of patients with a history of statin use had high-risk tumors (BWH stage T2b-T3) compared with 9.8% of men without prior statin use (P =.038). Findings indicated no significant differences in tumor size or stage between female patients with and without a history of statin use.

Data on the role of statins in SCC tumor incidence and prognosis is conflicted, with some studies reporting increased risk of disease severity seen with statin use, and others reporting better disease outcomes associated with statin use, it was noted.

However, since the incidence of cutaneous SCC is increasing disproportionately compared with basal cell carcinoma, “it is imperative to characterize patient- and tumor specific risk factors” besides the current BWH and American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) criteria, study investigators noted. Therefore, they encouraged further research on the relationship between statins and cutaneous SCC.

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Lee EB, Jiang H, Lobl MB, Wysong A. Statin use may be a predictor of larger and more aggressive tumor characteristics in squamous cell carcinoma [abstract]. Presented at: American Academy of Dermatology Conference 2021; April 23-25, 2021. Abstract 28086.