Annals of oncology : official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology

Glucocorticoid prescriptions and breast cancer recurrence: a Danish nationwide prospective cohort study.

PMID 25223486


Treatment with synthetic glucocorticoids (GCs) depresses the immune response and may therefore modify cancer outcomes. We investigated the association between GC use and breast cancer recurrence. We conducted a population-based cohort study to examine the risk of breast cancer recurrence associated with GC use among incident stage I-III female breast cancer patients aged >18 years diagnosed 1996-2003 in Denmark. Data on patients, clinical and treatment factors, recurrence, and comorbidities as well as data on GC prescriptions and potential confounders were obtained from Danish population-based medical registries. GCs were categorized according to administrative route: systemic, inhaled, or intestinal. Women were followed for up to 10 years or until 31 December 2008. We used Cox proportional hazards regression models to compute hazard ratios (HRs) and associated 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) to evaluate the association between GC use and recurrence. Time-varying drug exposures were lagged by 1 year. We included 18 251 breast cancer patients. Median recurrence follow-up was 6.9 years; 3408 women developed recurrence during follow-up. Four thousand six hundred two women filled at least one GC prescription after diagnosis. In unadjusted models, no association was observed among users of systemic, inhaled, and intestinal GCs (HRsystemic = 1.1, 95% CI 0.9-1.3; HRinhaled = 0.9, 95% CI 0.7-1.0; and HRintestinal = 1.0, 95% CI 0.9-1.2) versus nonusers. In adjusted models, the results were also near null (HRsystemic = 1.1, 95% CI 0.9-1.2; HRinhaled = 0.8, 95% CI 0.7-1.0; and HRintestinal = 1.0, 95% CI 0.8-1.2). We found no evidence of an effect of GC use on breast cancer recurrence.