More side effects with CRT plus metformin in head, neck cancer

May 7, 2017

(HealthDay)—Patients with advanced head and neck cancer undergoing chemoradiotherapy (CRT) and receiving metformin experience more side effects than patients not on metformin, according to research published online April 27 in Head & Neck.

Pei-Hung Chang, M.D., from the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taoyuan City, Taiwan, and colleagues conducted a involving 252 patients with stages III, IVA, and IVB head and neck cancer undergoing concurrent CRT with and without treatment. The authors compared the clinical characteristics, treatment tolerance, toxicities, and survival for the 39 patients with and the 219 patients without metformin treatment.

The researchers found that the clinical characteristics were similar between the groups, and disease-free and overall survival were nearly identical. Compared to those not receiving metformin, receiving metformin were less likely to tolerate cisplatin, had more weight loss, were likely to receive lower doses of radiotherapy, needed more feeding tube support, and had grade ≥3 nausea/vomiting and hematological toxicities.

"Patients with head and undergoing concurrent CRT along with metformin treatment require more careful multidisciplinary assessment and supportive care to ensure successful completion of treatment and avoid treatment-related toxicities," the authors write.

Explore further: Metformin linked to lower risk of head, neck cancer

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