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Common diabetes drug may help combat ovarian cancer by slowing tumour growth
The drug, which costs 1.30 a day, has also been found to stop tumours spreadingOverian cancer is one of the deadliest types of the disease
05:07 GMT, 3 December 2012
Breakthrough: A pill used to treat diabetes could double a woman's chances of surviving ovarian cancer
A pill commonly taken for diabetes could double a woman’s chance of surviving ovarian cancer, researchers believe.
The drug, which costs 1.30 a day, has been found to slow the growth of tumours and prevent them spreading.
Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest types of the illness and half of women diagnosed do not survive beyond five years.
Often it is only detected once it has spread to other organs, at which point there are very few effective treatments available.
But US researchers claim metformin – taken by thousands of Britons for diabetes – could more than double survival odds.
Their study, published in the journal Cancer, followed 239 women with ovarian cancer.
This included 73 with diabetes who were taking daily doses of metformin and 178 women not on the drug.
The researchers found that 67 per cent of the women on the drug were still alive five years after diagnosis, against 44 per cent of the other group.
But when they took into account the stage at which each woman was diagnosed, they calculated it was even more effective. They estimate women taking the drug are 2.2 times more likely to be alive after five years.
Dr Viji Shridhar, who led the study at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said that in future the drug could be routinely used for ovarian cancer.
He added: ‘This study opens the door for using metformin in large-scale randomised trials in ovarian cancer which can ultimately lead to metformin being one option for treatment of patients with the disease.’
Earlier this year the same drug was found to lower the chance of developing breast cancer.
Study: Tests are now underway to find out how effective the drug is at treating breast cancer too
Scientists from the University of California in Los Angeles, found middle-aged women who had taken metformin were 25 per cent less at risk.
A study is now under way to work out how effective the drug is at treating breast cancer.
Researchers behind these latest findings want to carry out a similar trial for ovarian cancer.
The illness is the fifth commonest cancer in women and there are 6,500 new cases in Britain a year, leading to 4,400 deaths.