By Lauren Robb
Researchers at Mayo Clinic recently released the results of a new study linking the diabetes drug metformin to better outcomes for patients with ovarian cancer. This study, published online in the journal Cancer, found that diabetic ovarian cancer patients who took this drug had a better survival rate than those who did not take it.
This study looked at the relationship between metformin and ovarian cancer over a five-year period. Of the 239 patients who participated in this study, 61 were taking metformin and 178 were not. After five years, 67 percent of those who had been taking metformin had survived, compared with 47 percent of those who hadn’t been taking the drug. Taking into consideration such factors as the patients’ body mass index (BMI), the severity of the cancer, the quality of surgery and the type of chemotherapy received, the researchers found that those who had been taking metformin were almost four times more likely to survive than those who had not been taking it.
This is not the first study to find a relationship between metformin and improved health outcomes for cancer patients. Previous research has shown that it inhibits the growth of cancer cells in mice and increases the survival rate for patients with pancreatic cancer. Because of this success, doctors are currently conducting clinical trials to investigate metformin’s effects on other types of cancer as well.
The results of this Mayo Clinic study may allow for researchers to begin using metformin as part of ovarian cancer treatments in large-scale trials. Metformin is a relatively cheap, popular drug that is easy for patients to access. If, indeed, it is continually proven to help treat cancer, it could change the way that both doctors and patients look at a cancer diagnosis and treatment.