Observational studies have demonstrated that metformin use in diabetic patients is associated with reduced cancer incidence and mortality. Here, we aimed to determine whether metformin use was associated with improved survival in patients with resected pancreatic cancer. All patients with diabetes who underwent resection for pancreatic adenocarcinoma between 12/1/1986 and 4/30/2013 at our institution were categorized by metformin use. Survival analysis was done using the Kaplan-Meier method, with log-rank test and Cox proportional hazards multivariable regression models. For analyses of our data and the only other published study, we used Meta-Analysis version 2.2. We identified 44 pancreatic cancer patients with diabetes who underwent resection of the primary tumor (19 with ongoing metformin use, 25 never used metformin). There were no significant differences in major clinical and demographic characteristics between metformin and non-metformin users. Metformin users had a better median survival than nonusers, but the difference was not statistically significant (35.3 versus 20.2 months; P = 0.3875). The estimated 2-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates for non-metformin users were 42%, 28%, and 14%, respectively. Metformin users fared better with corresponding rates of 68%, 34%, and 34%, respectively. In our literature review, which included 111 patients from the two studies (46 metformin users and 65 non-users), overall hazard ratio was 0.668 (95% CI 0.397-1.125), with P = 0.129. Metformin use was associated with improved survival outcomes in patients with resected pancreatic cancer, but the difference was not statistically significant. The potential benefit of metformin should be investigated in adequately powered prospective studies.
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