A review of 88 research studies has uncovered a link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer.
Mehrdad Nikfarjam, from the Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne, says pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced, incurable stage.
“This is an important paper that highlights for doctors and in patients with newly diagnosed diabetes without an obvious cause a diagnosis of underlying pancreatic cancer should be considered,” he says.
“The study revealed the risk of pancreatic cancer was greatest after the diagnosis of diabetes but remained elevated long after the diagnosis. The presence of diabetes remains a modest risk factor for the development of a cancer later in life.”
While the numbers of pancreatic cancer in the population are relatively low, the study suggests a screening program should be considered.
“The priority on screening should be on patients with new-onset diabetes but can later be expanded to long-standing diabetic patients,” says Nikfarjam.
“New onset diabetes is more prevalent in people over the age of 55. It may be important to consider screening all newly diagnosed diabetics for pancreatic cancer, particularly those without significant risk factors for developing diabetes in the first place.”
The study was published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology.
Source: University of Melbourne