Chemotherapy and metformin in pancreatic adenocarcinoma and neuroendocrine tumors

JOP. 2014 Jul 28;15(4):313-6. doi: 10.6092/1590-8577/2677.


Pancreatic cancer, despite being a relatively less commonly occurring cancer is among the deadliest ones, leading to a grave prognosis. Surgery stands as the mainstay of treatment of pancreatic cancer but is an option in less than 15% patients owing to the late presentation of the tumor. Chemotherapy offers an important part of treatment but can adversely affect the quality of life because of devastating side effects and has limited survival benefit. Unavailability of effective and less toxic treatment options for pancreatic cancer has prompted the search for new treatment strategies. One such drug being considered for its potential anti-neoplastic role is the time-tested and widely used oral hypoglycemic drug, metformin. Metformin is proposed to target metabolic pathways involved in tumorigenesis, specifically the AMPK-mTOR complex. Epidemiological evidence is mounting in favor of its role in various cancers both for treatment and prophylaxis. Herein, we aim to summarize the epidemiological data on metformin as a potential anti-cancer drug in various cancers followed by a look at some of the abstracts relating to this topic that were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting 2014.

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Metformin / administration & dosage
  • Metformin / therapeutic use*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / drug therapy*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Survival Analysis
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Metformin
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases