While diabetes is a common fatal disease in the United States, ovarian cancer is quickly growing to be another one to look out for as well. Now there may be a chance to help cure one with one simple pill.
A study by the Mayo Clinic has shown that the diabetic insulin-sensitizing drug Metformin has shown improvement in patients who are suffering from ovarian cancer. Patients with both diabetes and ovarian cancer and took the drug had a better survival rate than those who did not. The drug also helped to slow the growth of and prevent tumors.
The findings of this new study can be used by researchers to study other medications as well to find out if any of them can be used to treat other diseases.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer were diagnosed this year and about 15,500 will succumb to it in the United States. A woman has a 1 in 71 chance of developing invasive ovarian cancer and the same woman has a 1 in 95 chance of dying from it. That is a large amount, to large in fact and now there is a potential drug that can help to decrease that number. Metformin is a drug that is widely used for diabetes, to help manage and treat the disease. However, in previous studies it has shown great promise for various types of cancers, the latest being ovarian cancer.
Here is a breakdown of the study:
For the study, 61 patients with ovarian cancer (taking metformin) and 178 with ovarian cancer (not taking metformin) were compared by researchers. About 67 percent of the patients who were taking the drug survived after five years, they were compared against the 47 percent who did not take the drug. Factors such as: the severity of the cancer, type of chemotherapy, quality of surgery and body mass index all weighed in as well. The results for the entire study showed that those who had ovarian cancer and took metformin were four times likelier to survive than those who were not taking the medication.
Sanjeev Kumar, M.B.B.S., a Mayo Clinic gynecologic oncology fellow said, “Our study demonstrated improved survival in women with ovarian cancer that were taking metformin. 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.”
Researchers are hoping that this new information will help pave a way for using metformin to cure large-scale randomized trials of ovarian cancer. Researchers believe that there is a great need for developing a cure since ovarian cancer has such a high mortality rate annually and this is just one more step in the right direction.