Diabetes increases pancreatic cancer risk

IANS| Updated: Mar 15, 2014, 17:54 PM IST
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Melbourne: Screening all newly diagnosed diabetics for pancreatic cancer may soon become the norm as researchers have now discovered a link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

"The study revealed the risk of pancreatic cancer was greatest after the diagnosis of diabetes but remained elevated long after the diagnosis,” said Mehrdad Nikfarjam, liver, pancreas and biliary specialist at the University of Melbourne.

“The presence of diabetes remains a modest risk factor for the development of a cancer later in life," he said.

A team of clinicians worked with mathematicians to review data from 1973 to 2013 and they found that there was a time-dependent link between being diagnosed with diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

"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," Nikfarjam said.

While the numbers of those suffering from pancreatic cancer in the population are relatively low, the study suggested a screening programme 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," said 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," he said.

The study appeared in the journal Annals of Surgical Oncology.