Canadian Cancer Trials Group Bulletins

Trial Management Group

MA.32 Enrolls First Patient

"Cheap Diabetes Drug Tested as a Cancer treatment". This was the title of a May 19, 2010 Globe and Mail article featuring Canadian Cancer Trials Group MA.32: A PHASE III RANDOMIZED TRIAL OF METFORMIN VERSUS PLACEBO ON RECURRENCE AND SURVIVAL IN EARLY STAGE BREAST CANCER. Can a cancer patient be cured for 42 cents a day?

Those of you who have attended the Breast Disease Site Committee Meetings at the Canadian Cancer Trials Group Spring Meeting over the past few years will have heard a very enthusiastic Dr. Pamela Goodwin (Marvelle Koffler Chair in Breast Research at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and University of Toronto Professor of Medicine) presenting the results of her research into relationships between obesity, fasting insulin levels, Metformin and breast cancer. Her research, in cooperation with that of Dr. Vuk Stambolic (a scientist in the division of signaling biology at the Ontario Cancer Institute) has led her to propose that Metformin may exert anti-tumour effects in breast cancer through both insulin-dependent and insulin-independent mechanisms and involves some fascinating molecular science.

This work has led to the development of our MA.32 protocol which opened in Canada on June 25th and through the CTSU on July 8th. The hypothesis, stated simply, is that women with insulin levels in the higher range of normal have more breast cancer recurrences and higher death rates. Employing a well-tolerated agent aimed at lowering insulin levels may reduce breast cancer recurrences. MA.32 will randomize 3582 newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients to Metformin or placebo, as an addition to conventional adjuvant therapy. The primary endpoint is invasive disease-free survival.

At the time of this writing, we have three active sites in Canada and five in the United States. Many more sites are preparing to participate. Congratulations go to Dr. Stephen Chia who enrolled our first patient on Friday, August 13th!

The Globe and Mail article ended with a comment by our Director, Dr. Ralph Meyer: "We're very hopeful our hypothesis will prove true and will be a very important therapy at a world-wide level." It is persistence that has made this trial a reality. It is persistence that will see it a success. Please join us!

Questions about participating on MA.32 can be directed to Catherine Elliott, MA.32 Study Coordinator, at 613-533-6430 or