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The nervous system

a new target in the fight against cancer

Kazi, Rashek; Bunimovich, Yuri L.

doi: 10.1097/CAD.0000000000000698

During cancer progression, tumor cells interact with the neighboring environment, including neuronal tissue. The important influence of the nervous system on growth and metastasis of cancer is now widely accepted. As such, using medications that traditionally target the nervous system may be an avenue toward treating cancer. The focus of this review is to detail how several classes of medications, traditionally used to treat nervous system disorders, impact cancer. Specifically, we review the preclinical and clinical evidence that support the use of anti-β-adrenergic, anticholinergic, antipsychotic, and antidepressant medications to treat some cancers. In addition, we discuss the use of ablative modalities, such as physical and chemical denervation, to treat cancer or protect against cancer development. Using the medications that target the nervous system to treat cancer is a promising addition to an existing therapy or an alternative treatment strategy. Furthermore, rapidly expanding basic science research in this area will likely yield novel cancer therapies that work by targeting the nervous system.

Department of Dermatology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Correspondence to Yuri L. Bunimovich, MD, PhD, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Department of Dermatology, E1157 Biomedical Science Tower, 200 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA Tel: +1 412 681 1072; fax: +1 412 383 5857; e-mail:

Received July 8, 2018

Accepted September 7, 2018

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