Metfomin, a widely prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes may have the efficacy to treat diabetic patients who are also suffering from ovarian cancer, a study has shown. Metformin is an oral diabetes medicine that helps control blood sugar levels.
A study headed by the US-based Mayo clinic found that patients taking metformin were nearly four times likelier to survive, compared with those not taking the medication.
"Diabetic patients with ovarian cancer who took the drug metformin for their diabetes had a better survival rate than patients who did not take it" the study stated.
Earlier research into the drug had come out with promising results with other types of cancers but not ovarian cancer.
"The results are encouraging, but as with any retrospective study, many factors cannot be controlled for us to say if there is a direct cause and effect. Rather, this is further human evidence for a potential beneficial effect of a commonly used drug which is relatively safe in humans. These findings should provide impetus for prospective clinical trials in ovarian cancer," co-author Sanjeev Kumar, M.B.B.S., and a Mayo Clinic gynecologic oncology fellow said.
The research compared the survival of 61 patients with ovarian cancer taking metformin and 178 patients who were not taking metformin about 67 percent of the patients who took metformin were surviving after five years, compared to 47 percent of those who did not take the medication.
The results of the study, researchers say may pave the way for using metformin in large-scale randomized trials in ovarian cancer.
"Given the high mortality rate of ovarian cancer, there is a great need to develop new therapies for ovarian cancer. Metformin may potentially be one of these options," the researcher said.
In the United States alone, there have been about 22,280 new cases in 2012 resulting in some 15,500 deaths from Ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that forms in tissues of the ovary and begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary. Symptoms of this type of cancer may include bloating, pelvic pain, difficulty eating and frequent urination, and can easily be confused with other diseases.