Metformin Prevents the Progression of Dysplastic Mucosa of the Head and Neck to Carcinoma in Nondiabetic Patients

Michael Zvi Lerner, Niv Mor, Hyung Paek, Andrew Blitzer, Marshall Strome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: Metformin is an oral anti-hyperglycemic agent used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). In vitro and animal models have shown that metformin can prevent the progression of oral lesions to carcinoma; however, there is conflicting data in the clinical literature regarding risk reduction for malignancy in head and neck cancer (HNC). Study Design: Case series. Methods: We present 3 cases in which adjuvant metformin therapy was used to treat recurrent and multifocal dysplastic lesions in previously treated nondiabetic HNC patients. Results: Patients included 1 with a history of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and 2 with a history of laryngeal SCC. Follow-up time ranged between 3 and 33 months. All 3 patients showed complete or partial regression of the remaining mucosal lesions and did not require any additional surgeries. Conclusion: We present 3 cases of nondiabetic HNC patients with field cancerization who showed a good response to adjuvant therapy with metformin. The nondiabetic population is not affected by confounding factors such as increased risk of malignancy and decreased overall survival that is itself associated with abnormal glucose metabolism and is therefore an excellent cohort in which to study the use of adjuvant metformin therapy in HNC patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-343
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • dysplasia
  • head and neck cancer
  • laryngeal neoplasms
  • mTORC
  • mammalian target of rapamycin complex
  • metformin
  • oral cavity cancer


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