Retrospective cohort study to determine the effect of metformin on survival of diabetic patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Navid Sadeghi, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background: Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States. Despite advances in cancer treatment, prognosis of pancreatic cancer remains extremely poor with survival rates of 24% and 5% in 1 and 5 years, respectively. Many patients with pancreatic cancer have a history of diabetes and are treated with various antidiabetic regimens including metformin. In multiple retrospective studies, metformin has been associated with decreased risk of cancer and cancer-related mortality. Metformin has also been reported to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study to examine the survival benefit of metformin in diabetic patients with pancreatic cancer at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC). A dataset of 397 patients who carried the diagnosis of "Diabetes Mellitus" and "Pancreatic Cancer" at MD Anderson were screened for this study. Results: Mean age of patients at diagnosis of cancer was 64.0 ± 8.7 years (range 37-84). The majority of the patients were male (65.6%) and of Caucasian race (78.5%). The most common antidiabetic regimen used were insulin and metformin (in 39.1% and 38.7%, respectively). Patients' cancer were staged as resectable in 34.1%, locally advanced unresectable in 29.1%, and disseminated disease in 36.7% of cases. Overall 1-year and 3-year survival rates for all stages combined were 51.8% and 7.6%, respectively. Earlier stage, metformin use, low CA19-9 level, better ECOG performance status, surgical intervention, negative surgical margins, and smaller tumor size were associated with longer survival. Metformin use was associated with a 33% decrease in risk of death (HR: 0.67; 95% CI: 0.51-0.88). Multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression showed hazard ratio of 1.77 (95% CI 1.49-2.10) for cancer stage, 0.65 (95% CI 0.49-0.86) for metformin use, and 1.68 (95% CI 1.26-2.23) for CA 19-9 level above population median. Conclusion: Our study suggests that metformin may improve the outcome in diabetic patients with pancreatic cancer independently of other known prognostic factors. Pancreatic cancer carries extremely poor prognosis; metformin may provide a suitable adjunct therapeutic option for pancreatic cancer in patients with and without diabetes mellitus.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Sadeghi, Navid, "Retrospective cohort study to determine the effect of metformin on survival of diabetic patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1483762.