Scientists in Europe are investigating whether blood pressure drugs, known as beta-blockers, could prevent the spread of breast cancer and improve survival.

A pilot study carried out in Nottingham, UK, and Germany has already found that breast cancer patients being treated with beta-blockers leads to a significant reduction in the spread of the cancer and 71% reduced risk of dying.

The new Cancer Research UK funded study will look at about 30,000 patients, and will report the results next year.

Breast cancer spreading to other parts of the body is the biggest cause of death from the disease – it’s thought that around 30% of breast cancers spread and account for up to 90% of all deaths from the disease.

Dr Des Powe from the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust is working on the study, in collaboration with scientists from Belfast and Germany. He said: "It is absolutely crucial to conquer cancer spread if we are to really improve breast cancer survival as this problem causes nearly all deaths from the disease. So it’s very exciting that we have been funded by Cancer Research UK to take this work further and see whether beta blockers really do improve survival in a large population of breast cancer patients.

"This study will be sufficiently large to determine whether we should progress to clinical trials and identify which type of beta-blockers have the strongest effect," added Powe.

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