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Research article:

Sodium channel-inhibiting drugs and cancer survival: protocol for a cohort study using the CPRD primary care database


Caroline Fairhurst, Fabiola Martin, Ian Watt, Tim Doran, Martin Bland, William J. Brackenbury(2016) Sodium channel-inhibiting drugs and cancer survival: protocol for a cohort study using the CPRD primary care database. BMJ Open, doi:

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Introduction: Voltage-gated sodium channel (VGSC)-inhibiting drugs are commonly used to treat epilepsy and cardiac arrhythmia. VGSCs are also widely expressed in various cancers, including those of the breast, bowel and prostate. A number of VGSC-inhibiting drugs have been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, invasion, tumour growth and metastasis in preclinical models, suggesting that VGSCs may be novel molecular targets for cancer treatment. Surprisingly, we previously found that prior exposure to VGSC-inhibiting drugs may be associated with reduced overall survival in cancer patients, but we were unable to control for cause of death or indication for prescription. The purpose of the present study is to interrogate a different database in order to further investigate the relationship between VGSC-inhibiting drugs and cancer-specific survival. Methods and analysis: A cohort study using primary care data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) database will include patients with diagnosis of breast, bowel and prostate cancer (approx. n=13,000). The primary outcome will be cancer-specific survival from date of cancer diagnosis. Cox proportional hazards regression will be used to compare survival of patients taking VGSC-inhibiting drugs (including antiepileptic drugs and Class I antiarrhythmic agents) with cancer patients not taking these drugs, adjusting for cancer type, age and sex. Drug exposure will be treated as a time-varying covariate to account for potential immortal time bias. Various sensitivity and secondary analyses will be performed. Ethics and dissemination: The project has been reviewed and approved by the University of York Ethical Review Process. Results will be presented at an international conference and published in open access peer-reviewed journals according to the STROBE and RECORD guidelines.
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William J. Brackenbury
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