Metformin may improve survival in kidney cancer patients, especially those with localized renal cell carcinoma (RCC), a new meta-analysis suggests.

Yonghua Mi and colleagues of Yongchuan Hospital, Chongqing Medical University, in Chongqing, China, pooled data from 8 original studies involving 254,329 patients with kidney cancer in Asia or North America. Patients receiving metformin had a significant 36% lower risk of death overall and 38% lower risk of cancer-specific death, according to results published online in International Urology and Nephrology. Moreover, metformin use by patients with localized RCC was associated with a significant 37% and 52% lower risk of death overall and cancer-specific death, respectively. The data were significantly heterogeneous for metastatic RCC. No associations were found for cancer-specific survival or progression-free survival.

The investigators further determined that metformin was associated with a 29% lower risk of death from any cause for RCC patients from North America.

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“The current meta-analysis suggests that the use of metformin could improve the OS and CSS of kidney cancer patients, especially localized RCC patients,” Mi and colleagues wrote. “However, due to the limitations of this meta-analysis, further investigations are needed to be conducted to identify the different effects of metformin on patients with localized and metastatic RCC.”

Results from previous studies on metformin have been mixed, with some suggesting survival benefits in metastatic and/or localized RCC, and others not. Since the data were limited in this meta-analysis, the researchers could not investigate the possible effects of age, gender, or specific clinical characteristics.

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1. Li Y, Hu L, Xia Q, Yuan Y, Mi Y. The impact of metformin use on survival in kidney cancer patients with diabetes: a meta-analysis. Int Urol Nephrol. 2017 Mar 7. doi: 10.1007/s11255-017-1548-4. [Epub ahead of print]