Back to Journals » Cancer Management and Research » Volume 10

Effects of metformin treatment on radiotherapy efficacy in patients with cancer and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Authors Rao M, Gao C, Guo M, Law BYK, Xu Y

Received 17 May 2018

Accepted for publication 30 August 2018

Published 24 October 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 4881—4890


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Harikrishna Nakshatri

Mingyue Rao,1–3 Chenlin Gao,1,2 Man Guo,2 Betty Yuen Kwan Law,1,4 Yong Xu1,2

1Faculty of Chinese Medicine, Macau University of Science and Technology, Avenida Wai Long, Taipa, Macau, China; 2Department of Endocrinology, 3Department of Oncology, Affiliated Hospital of Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, Sichuan 646000, China; 4State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Macau University of Science and Technology, Avenida Wai Long, Taipa, Macau, China

Purpose: Metformin is a key pharmaceutical for patients with diabetes mellitus (DM). Metformin also can enhance tumor radiosensitivity in vitro and in vivo. Some retrospective cohort studies have indicated that metformin can improve the efficacy of radiotherapy in patients with cancer and DM. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the radiotherapy efficacy of metformin in patients with cancer and DM.
Methods: Multiple databases were queried for studies that address the efficacy of metformin in radiotherapy of patients with cancer and DM. Studies were included that involved comparisons of the short-term tumor responses and long-term survival outcomes of these patients who were managed with or without metformin as well as of nondiabetic patients without metformin. The OR and HR with accompanying 95% CI were assessed in a random effects model. The main endpoints were 2-year and 5-year overall survival (2y-OS and 5y-OS, respectively).
Results: The database search yielded 17 cohort studies that met the inclusion criteria. The results indicated that the tumor response was higher in patients who also were treated with metformin than in those who were not (OR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.22–1.07; P=0.07) and nondiabetic (OR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.07–0.98; P=0.05). Moreover, patients who received metformin had survival benefits compared with patients not treated with metformin (2y-OS: OR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.29–0.80; P=0.005; 5y-OS: OR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.25–0.56; P<0.00001). The metformin-related HRs of OS values were not significantly different.
Conclusion: Metformin appears to improve the tumor response to radiotherapy in patients with cancer and DM and partly yield survival benefits. Despite the apparent advantages provided by metformin treatment on 2y-OS and 5y-OS, these retrospective data are at risk of bias and should be interpreted with caution.

Keywords: metformin, cancer, diabetes mellitus, radiotherapy, survival

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]