Metformin prolonged survival in patients with ovarian cancer
The diabetes drug metformin extended the survival time in patients with ovarian cancer, according to results of a retrospective case-control study.
Ovarian cancer is associated with extremely high mortality rates due to the fact that 75% of patients have at least stage III at the time of diagnosis. Prior studies have shown only limited efficacy associated with up-front and recurrent ovarian cancer therapies. Consequently, there is a growing need to develop or improve upon treatment options for patients with ovarian cancer, according to researchers.
Previous research has indicated that metformin may have anticancer properties. In the current investigation, researchers sought to identify any association between metformin and the survival time of patients with ovarian cancer. To the researchers’ knowledge, the study was the largest case-control trial to evaluate this association.
In the preliminary analysis, investigators used inpatient hospital records and outpatient pharmacy prescription records at Mayo Clinic to identify 215 patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer between 1995 and 2010.
Of them, 72 patients received metformin at or after cancer diagnosis. The other 143 patients served as controls.
Patients treated with metformin demonstrated superior 5-year disease-specific survival compared with controls (73% vs. 44%; P=.0002).
In the definitive analysis, Sanjeev Kumar, MBBS, department of gynecologic surgery at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues compared women with epithelial ovarian cancer who received metformin (n=61) with women with epithelial ovarian cancer who did not take the drug (n=178).
Patients with ovarian cancer treated with metformin had a significantly higher 5-year disease specific survival rate compared with controls (67% vs. 47%; P=.007), study results showed.
On multivariate analysis, metformin remained an independent predictor of survival after controlling for disease stage, grade, histology, chemotherapy, BMI and surgical cytoreduction (HR=2.2; 95% CI, 1.2-3.8).
The results demonstrated that metformin intake independently predicted better survival in patients with ovarian cancer, Kumar and colleagues concluded. The findings open the door for using metformin in large-scale randomized trials in ovarian cancer, they said.
“Although causation could not be assessed by our retrospective study, metformin nevertheless is a strong contender for further studies in ovarian cancer,” they wrote.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.