There is a link between type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer
Many people in Germany have diabetes. Researchers have now found that diabetes can also be a warning sign of cancer. Type 2 diabetes was diagnosed in about 50 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer last year.
Scientists from the International Prevention Research Institute in France found in an investigation that a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can be a warning sign of the development of cancer. The doctors published the results of their study at the European Cancer Congress 2017.
A sudden worsening of diabetes massively increases the risk of cancer
A recent study of almost a million patients in Italy and Belgium found a link between type 2 diabetes and the development of cancer. 50 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last year, the authors explain. If patients already had type 2 diabetes, worsening of the disease was associated with a seven-fold increased risk of diagnosing cancer.
Type 2 diabetes diagnoses have increased by 30 percent in the past five years
The human pancreas produces insulin. Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body cannot use the hormone properly and so-called insulin resistance develops, the experts say. Diabetes is a very common condition. In the UK alone there are 3.5 million cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is also becoming increasingly common in Germany, and type 2 diabetes diagnoses have increased by 30 percent in the past five years. Pancreatic cancer, on the other hand, is relatively rare. In the UK, for example, there are around 10,000 diagnoses annually.
Rapidly worsening diabetes should be examined
Physicians and diabetics should know that the appearance of diabetes or a rapidly worsening diabetes disease can be the first sign of hidden pancreatic cancer, explains author Alice Koechlin from the International Prevention Research Institute. Such situations should definitely be examined more closely. Type 2 diabetes also appears to affect other types of cancer. Other studies on type 2 diabetes have already shown that obesity and type 2 diabetes increase the risk of liver cancer.
More research is needed
Further research is now urgently needed to develop earlier detection methods for pancreatic cancer. For example, people at increased risk of pancreatic cancer, such as people with diabetes, could be screened. A lot of work still needs to be done to identify pancreatic cancer diseases before the obvious symptoms appear, Koechlin adds.
A non-invasive diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is urgently needed
There is currently no good, non-invasive method for detecting pancreatic cancer that reacts to signs or symptoms that are not yet visible, the scientists explain. The current results hopefully help in the search for blood markers that indicate the presence of pancreatic cancer. Those affected could then decide to have an endoscopy to confirm the cancer, the doctors added.
Doctors and patients should be aware of the risk
The association between pancreatic cancer and type 2 diabetes has been an interesting area for researchers for several years. It is great to see that the current studies provide new and potentially very valuable information that can alert doctors and patients to the need for further examinations, the authors explain. (as)