Common diabetes drug may help treat ovarian cancer

December 3, 2012

A new study suggests that the common diabetes medication metformin may be considered for use in the prevention or treatment of ovarian cancer. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study found that ovarian cancer patients who took the drug tended to live longer than patients who did not take it.

New treatments are desperately needed for ovarian cancer. Previous research has indicated that metformin, which originates from the French Lilac plant, may have . To look for an effect of the medication in ovarian cancer, Viji Shridhar, PhD, Sanjeev Kumar, MD, both of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and their colleagues analyzed information from 61 patients with ovarian cancer who took metformin and 178 patients who did not.

Sixty-seven percent of those who took metformin had not died from ovarian cancer within five years, compared with 47 percent of those who did not take the medication. After accounting for factors such as cancer severity and patients' , the investigators found that patients taking metformin were 3.7 times more likely to survive throughout the study than those not taking it.

The findings demonstrate only a correlation between metformin intake and better survival, and additional studies are needed to decipher whether the observations made in this study represent a true beneficial effect of metformin in patients with ovarian cancer.

"This study opens the door for using metformin in large-scale randomized trials in ovarian cancer which can ultimately lead to metformin being one option for treatment of patients with the disease," said Dr. Shridhar. Such trials are currently underway in . "We think that research needs to follow that example," said Dr. Kumar.

Explore further: Metformin appeared to slow prostate cancer growth

More information: "Metformin intake associates with better survival in ovarian cancer: A case control study." Sanjeev Kumar, Alexandra Meuter, Prabin Thapa, Carrie Langstraat, Shailendra Giri, Jeremy Chien, Ramandeep Rattan, William Cliby, and Viji Shridhar. CANCER; Published Online: December 3, 2012 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.27706).

Related Stories

Metformin appeared to slow prostate cancer growth

April 1, 2012

The use of metformin in men with prostate cancer before prostatectomy helped to reduce certain metabolic parameters and slow the growth rate of the cancer, according to the results of a phase II study.

Metformin may have dual effect in breast cancer

May 9, 2012

(HealthDay) -- For women without diabetes and with operable breast cancer, administration of metformin prior to surgery does not significantly affect the proliferative marker Ki-67 overall, but drug effects are observed according ...

Lung cancer risk unaffected by metformin use in diabetes

August 30, 2012

(HealthDay)—Patients with type 2 diabetes who take metformin do not have a reduced risk of lung cancer, in contrast to previous observational studies, according to a study published online Aug. 24 in Diabetes Care.

Recommended for you

Researchers thwart cancer cells by triggering 'virus alert'

August 27, 2015

Working with human cancer cell lines and mice, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and elsewhere have found a way to trigger a type of immune system "virus alert" that may one day boost cancer patients' ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.