Diabetes after age 50 linked to pancreatic cancer in blacks and Latinos

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Study funding comes from the National Institutes of Health grants R01CA192393 and R01CA97075; Mayo Clinic Specialized Program of Research Excellence in Pancreatic Cancer; Mayo Clinic Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology Research Funds; Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine; the Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation; the Stand Up To Cancer-Lustgarten Foundation; and the Vernon F. and Mae E. Thompson Charitable Fund.

Pancreatic cancer affects around 9,600 people a year and fewer than one in ten people survive for five years after their diagnosis.

Type 2 diabetes onset after the age of 50 could be an early indicator of pancreatic cancer, a new study claims.

Diabetes has been proposed to be both a risk factor for and a effect of pancreatic cancer. The study spanned two decades and assessed almost 50,000 Hispanic and African American men and women with ages above 50.

Diabetes has been consistently associated with pancreatic cancer in previous studies, with a twofold higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer among diabetes patients. 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.

"We need to have a better way to identify patients with early pancreatic cancer", Setiawan said.

More than 50 percent of the participants having pancreatic cancer later developed diabetes in less than three years of being diagnosed with the cancer, as per Setiawan.

They found that number of people who developed diabetes were more than twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer as compared to those who had not developed diabetes. Among pancreatic cancer patients undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomies (the surgical operation often used to try to remove pancreatic tumors), over half of patients with recent-onset diabetes have no diabetes postoperatively. The test results of 21 cancer genes were compared to similar results from more than 123,000 patients without pancreatic cancer.

"Patients develop Type 2 diabetes at a later age". Pancreatic cancer is relatively rare.

"Patients develop Type 2 diabetes at a later age. There is no indication for general screening for pancreatic cancer in patients with diabetes", said Dr. Robert Rushakoff, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and medical director of the UCSF Diabetes Center. There are some dietary changes you can make, in order to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce risk of diabetes.

This proves largely ineffective for those whose cancer has spread to other organs. When stratifying by disease duration, people with recent-onset diabetes had the highest risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

"By the time pancreatic cancer is found, it's nearly always spread or it's to the point where it can't be removed successfully", Wainberg said. "Importantly, here we show that the association of recent-onset diabetes with pancreatic cancer is observed in African Americans and Latinos, two understudied minority populations".

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