Impact of Metformin Use on Survival in Patients with Gastric Cancer and Diabetes Mellitus Following Gastrectomy

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Jul 23;12(8):2013. doi: 10.3390/cancers12082013.


Studies have shown the anticancer effects of metformin in vitro. However, whether metformin can prevent cancer recurrence or prolong survival in patients with gastric cancer (GC) and diabetes mellitus (DM) post-gastrectomy remains unknown. We evaluated the beneficial effects of metformin in patients with GC and DM post-gastrectomy. We recruited 2400 patients with GC (1749 without DM, 651 with DM) who underwent surgery between 1997 and 2010. Patients with DM were stratified into metformin (group 1) and non-metformin (group 2) users. Their clinicopathological data were recorded prospectively, and demographics, recurrence-free survival (RFS), and cancer-specific survival (CSS) were compared. Tumour recurrence risk and cause of death were analysed between groups 1 and 2 among patients with DM stratified by tumour stage. We also compared RFS and overall survival among patients with and without DM. Tumour recurrence occurred in 201 patients with GC: 57 (25%) in group 1 and 144 (37%) in group 2. After adjusting for confounders, metformin significantly prolonged CSS (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.54, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.38-0.77) in patients with stage I-III GC and DM. In subgroup analysis, metformin users with stage III GC and DM had significantly prolonged CSS compared to non-metformin users (HR = 0.45, 95% CI = 0.30-0.68), with an insignificant difference in patients with stage I-II GC. Adjusted HRs for RFS and CSS were significantly lower in patients with stage I-III GC and DM than those in patients without DM (0.67 (95% CI = 0.54-0.92) and 0.62 (95% CI = 0.50-0.77), respectively), with an insignificant difference in patients with stage I GC. Metformin significantly reduces tumour recurrence risk and improves CSS in patients with stage III GC and DM post-gastrectomy. Further prospective studies may confirm the efficacy of metformin as an adjunctive treatment for advanced GC postoperatively.

Keywords: diabetes mellitus; gastric cancer; metformin.