PHILADELPHIA — Patients with diabetes and pancreatic cancer who are prescribed metformin may have improved survival compared with those not prescribed the commonly used diabetic agent, according to a study published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Although the causes of pancreatic cancer remain largely unknown, patients with pancreatic cancer often have a high prevalence of diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance.
“This study suggests that metformin use in patients with diabetes was associated with improved pancreatic cancer survival, so we should certainly begin study of its supplemental use in pancreatic cancer treatment,” said Donghui Li, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
In a retrospective study, Li and colleagues observed 302 patients with diabetes and pancreatic cancer; of which 117 were prescribed metformin.
At one year, the researchers found that 63.9 percent of the patients prescribed metformin were still alive, while 46.3 percent of the group not prescribed metformin survived.
By two years, 30.1 percent of the metformin group remained alive compared with 15.4 percent of the non-metformin group. Median survival was 15.2 months for patients prescribed metformin and 11.1 months for patients not prescribed metformin. Those prescribed metformin had a 32 percent reduced risk for death.
This protective effect was evident at all disease stages, with the exception of metastatic disease where metformin appeared to have no measurable effect.
Li suggested that metformin was acting on the insulin resistance observed in both diabetes and pancreatic cancer, as well as on the AMPK/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway and said a randomized clinical trial is warranted.
About the AACR
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR’s membership includes 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes seven peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of individual and team science grants in cancer research that have the potential for patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer.
For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.