A diabetes diagnosis later in life may signal early pancreatic cancer


Recent-onset type 2 diabetes has been linked to pancreatic cancer in African Americans and Hispanics older than 50, according to a study. Most people in the study who had diabetes and developed pancreatic cancer were diagnosed with diabetes less than three years before their cancer diagnosis.

Of the almost 50,000 participants, the researchers identified about 16,000 who developed diabetes and about 400 who developed pancreatic cancer during the 20-year study period.

"This striking relationship between recent-onset diabetes is unique to pancreatic cancer, and is not seen in breast, prostate and colorectal cancer in the cohort", Dr. Wendy Setiawan, an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, said in a press release.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly of all types of cancer that often detected late, spreads rapidly to nearby organs.

The Ultimate Guide This is because the vast majority of pancreatic cancer patients (some 80 per cent of them) are diagnosed at a late stage. With other types of cancer (colon, breast, etc.) diabetes is associated was not.

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A total of 408 incident pancreatic cancer cases were identified during follow-up. Even though none of the participants had diabetes or pancreatic cancer at the beginning of the study, researchers found that from about 16,000 who developed diabetes, 400 of them had developed pancreatic cancer during the 20-year time period. "The risks of developing pancreatic cancer due to mutations in these genes can be more accurately estimated than ever before because of this seminal study". Consequently, it's advisable that patients diagnosed with new-onset diabetes later in life monitor their risks of developing pancreatic cancer.

New data confirm the hypothesis that the recent diabetes in pancreatic cancer is a manifestation of tumor development. This year, 55,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and 44,000 American will die of the disease this year, according to American Cancer Society estimates.

Nearly half of all new pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed in people over 75, and it is uncommon in people under 40.

"If you really look at the type of Type 2 diabetes that pancreatic cancer patients have, the majority of those diabetes are diagnosed very, very close to the time of the cancer diagnosis", Setiawan said.

The findings suggest that the onset of diabetes, particularly after the age of 50, could be an early indicator of pancreatic cancer for some patients. These genetic mutations were identified in 5.5 percent of all pancreatic cancer patients, including 5.2 percent of cancer patients without a family history of pancreatic cancer. The work suggests that patients with recent-onset diabetes who go on to develop pancreatic cancer represent a high-risk population of patients who can be studied for additional risk predictors and may be targeted for development of the tests that are needed for earlier diagnosis. When stratifying by disease duration, people with recent-onset diabetes had the highest risk of developing pancreatic cancer.