Having Diabetes Linked to Developing Pancreatic Cancer

If you have diabetes, you may want to consider enrolling in a screening program for pancreatic cancer. This is the advice of researchers from the University of Melbourne, in Australia, who have demonstrated that there is an association between the two diseases.

In a study recently published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, clinicians and mathematicians who surveyed data from 1973 to 2013 found that there was a time-dependent link between being diagnosed with diabetes and developing pancreatic cancer.

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Risk Is Greater After Diabetes Diagnoses

The risk of pancreatic cancer in patients who had been recently diagnosed, according to the the study. However, the risk remained higher than average for a long time following the diagnosis.

The presence of diabetes remains a modest risk factor for the development of a cancer later in life, according to Dr. Mehrdad Nikfarjam, a liver and pancreas specialist from the Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne.

Pancreatic cancer often doesn’t exhibit symptoms until it is very advanced and incuarable; this makes it one of the deadliest forms of cancer. For this reason, Nikfarjam said, it's important for doctors of patients with newly diagnosed diabetes without an obvious cause to consider testing for pancreatic cancer.

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Screenings Are Crucial

Although the priority on screening should be on patients with new-onset diabetes, Dr. Nikfarjam said that screening should also be expanded to long-standing diabetic patients.

New-onset diabetes is more prevalent in people over 55. Researchers suggest screening all newly diagnosed diabetics for pancreatic cancer, particularly those without significant risk factors for developing diabetes in the first place.  

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