Metformin: a new promise in breast cancer
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, affecting 2.1 million women each year. It is estimated that around 6,27,000 women died of breast cancer in 2018 alone.
Women with these clinical features require evaluation: lump in the breast, puckering of skin over the breast, bloody discharge from the nipple, change in shape, size of the breast, and nipple.
Women with a family history of breast cancer need regular screening.
Depending on the staging of cancer, patients can be selected to receive chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, or monoclonal antibodies and definitive surgeries.
Cancer cells are known to adapt extreme stress and eventually can develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs, either to one or more drugs – a phenomenon referred to as multidrug resistance.
Drug resistance becomes a hurdle in treating patients, eventually causing treatment failure and relapse.
“Metformin” – a promising drug, used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus have shown a ray of hope in overcoming drug resistance in cancer breast treatment.
Various meta-analysis reported a lower risk and incidence of breast cancer among diabetic individuals on the metformin regime.
Metformin acts by altering cancer cell metabolism, mitochondrial function, and intracellular signaling of cancer-causing pathways like Ras, Raf, MEK, ERK, PI3K/Akt, mToR. Hence, reduce cancer cell growth, migration, prevents the spread of cancer cells, and increases cancer cell death.
Metformin can be used as a combination therapy with other chemotherapy agents to increase the efficacy of treatment, to decrease relapse rates, and to avoid drug resistance.
Near future and further trials need to answer questions like standard therapeutic doses, specificity to cancer cells at higher concentration, and post-therapeutic relapse and survival rates. Here’s everything you need to know.