Association of metformin use and survival in patients with cutaneous melanoma and diabetes

Br J Dermatol. 2023 Jan 23;188(1):32-40. doi: 10.1093/bjd/ljac003.


Background: Metformin use has been associated with improved survival in patients with different types of cancer, but research regarding the effect of metformin on cutaneous melanoma (CM) survival is sparse and inconclusive.

Objectives: To investigate the association between metformin use and survival among patients with CM and diabetes.

Methods: All adult patients with a primary invasive CM between 2007 and 2014 were identified in the Swedish Melanoma Registry and followed until death, or end of follow-up on 31 December 2017 in this population-based cohort study. Patients with both CM and type 2 diabetes mellitus were assessed further. Overall survival (OS) and melanoma-specific survival (MSS) were the primary endpoints. Cox proportional hazard models estimating crude and adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used comparing peridiagnostic use vs. nonuse of metformin. Dose response was evaluated based on defined daily doses.

Results: Among a total of 23 507 patients, 1162 patients with CM and type 2 diabetes mellitus were included in the final cohort, with a median follow-up time of 4.1 years (interquartile range 2.4-6.1). Peridiagnostic metformin use was associated with a significantly decreased risk of death by any cause (HR 0.68, 95% CI 0.57-0.81). Cumulative pre- and postdiagnostic metformin use was also associated with improved OS: the HR for prediagnostic use was 0.90 (95% CI 0.86-0.95) for every 6 months of use and the HR for postdiagnostic use ranged from 0.98 (95% CI 0.97-0.98) for 0-6 months to 0.59 (0.49-0.70) for 24-30 months of use. No association was found for metformin use and MSS.

Conclusions: Metformin use was associated with improved OS in patients with CM and diabetes regardless of timing (pre-, post- or peridiagnostic use) and followed a dose-response pattern. However, further research regarding the underlying mechanisms is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Melanoma*
  • Metformin*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms*


  • Metformin
  • Hypoglycemic Agents

Supplementary concepts

  • Melanoma, Cutaneous Malignant