Skip to main content

Metformin and breast cancer stage at diagnosis: a population-based study

Lega IC, Fung K, Austin PC, Lipscombe LL. Curr Oncol. 2017; 24(2):e85-91. Epub 2017 Apr 27.

Purpose — The objective of the present study was to use a large, population-based cohort to examine the association between metformin and breast cancer stage at diagnosis while accounting for mammography differences.

Methods — We used data from Ontario administrative health databases to identify women 68 years of age or older with diabetes and invasive breast cancer diagnosed from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2012. Adjusted logistic regression models were used to compare breast cancer stage at diagnosis (stages i and ii vs. iii and iv) between the women exposed and not exposed to metformin. We also examined the association between metformin use and estrogen receptor status, tumour size, and lymph node status in the subset of women for whom those data were available.

Results — We identified 3125 women with diabetes and breast cancer; 1519 (48.6%) had been exposed to metformin before their cancer diagnosis. Median age at breast cancer diagnosis was 76 years (interquartile range: 72–82 years), and mean duration of diabetes was 8.8 ± 5.9 years. In multivariable analyses, metformin exposure was not associated with an earlier stage of breast cancer (odds ratio: 0.98; 95% confidence interval: 0.81 to 1.19). In secondary analyses, metformin exposure was not associated with estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer, tumours larger than 2 cm, or positive lymph nodes.

Conclusions — This population-based study did not show an association between metformin use and breast cancer stage or tumour characteristics at diagnosis. Our study considered older women with long-standing diabetes, and therefore further studies in younger patients could be warranted.

View full text

Keywords: Breast cancer Diabetes Diagnostic testing/imaging