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Diagnosis Of Type 2 Diabetes May Signal An Early Pancreatic Cancer In Older People


The number of persons who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or type 2 diabetes (T2D) is on the rise in the United States. Over 55,000 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015 and about 80 percent of them were diagnosed at an advanced stage. Most of the earlier studies on pancreatic cancer have been done in the Caucasian race (also Caucasoid race).

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The study shows that the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in an elderly person may be an early sign of pancreatic cancer.

In the current study, the researchers wanted to find out a better way for an early identification of pancreatic cancer in the people. Researchers have conducted the Multiethnic Cohort Study (MEC), an analytical study to find out the markers and characteristics of pancreatic cancer. This study was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The study shows that the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) after the age of 60 years may indicate an early sign of pancreatic cancer.

The researchers have conducted a 20-year follow-up study on 50,000 African American and Hispanic men and women. The participants are at the highest risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), but without type 2 diabetes or pancreatic cancer at the start of the study. They used the California hospital discharge records, Medicare claims and a self-reporting of the people in determining the type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

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During the study period, researchers found that about 15,800 (32 percent) of the participants were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in about 408 people. The median age of the patients at the time of the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was 76.7 years. The following table shows the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer among the people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, aged between 65 and 85 in the previous three years.

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The population group The enhanced risk of pancreatic cancer
General population Two-fold
Latinos Four times
African Americans Three times
The risk of pancreatic cancer among the Black people is about 25 percent higher when compared with the White people.

The study also shows the following.

  • Twice likely diagnosis of pancreatic cancer among patients with type 2 diabetes compared with people without type 2 diabetes.
  • Up to 80 percent of the people aged more than 50 years with a recent ascent to high blood sugar (glucose) levels are at the early phase of pancreatic cancer.
  • Researchers also tracked the risk of other cancers. But the risk of pancreatic cancer is unusually high when compared with other cancers in patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes within three years in 50 percent of the people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

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This study clearly shows that pancreatic cancer can be predicted in some people with the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

The current study was done on the African American and the Hispanic people and the study may not be applied to all people. But the study has found no association between the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and the diagnosis of prostate, breast or colorectal cancer, in the people aged over 60 years.

It is not clear whether pancreatic cancer causes type 2 diabetes or type 2 diabetes causes pancreatic cancer in a person. The experts think that type 2 diabetes is a risk factor and also an outcome of pancreatic cancer. But the mechanism behind the association between type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer is not clear.

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Now, the researchers are developing a test procedure (test and the guidelines) for an early identification of pancreatic cancer. When an elderly person from the minority community was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he should consult the doctor for the possible sign of cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. New tools such as the liquid biopsy test may be used for the early diagnosis of cancer.

The lead author of the study was Dr. Veronica Wendy Setiawan, Ph.D., an associate professor of the preventive medicine, the Keck School of Medicine, the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, United States. The study was published June 18, 2018, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Title of the article was "Pancreatic Cancer Following Incident Diabetes in African Americans and Latinos: The Multiethnic Cohort."
DOI: doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djy090

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Liquid biopsy : The liquid biopsy (also known as the fluid phase biopsy) is a simple and non-invasive blood test to diagnose and monitor the tumor. This test can check for the cancer DNA in the blood. The development of cancer can be tracked in a better way by conducting this test more frequently over a period. This test can also be used to track the treatment of cancer.

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Pancreatic cancer : Pancreatic cancer is a fatal type of cancer. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says the survival rate of pancreatic cancer over a five-year period is 8.5 percent. The survival rate of pancreatic cancer is very poor. A better testing procedure is required for the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Currently, there are no screening guidelines for pancreatic cancer.

A person will be affected with pancreatic cancer when the cancerous cells form in the tissue of pancreas gland. About 1.6 percent of the people are affected by this form of cancer. The symptoms of the pancreatic disease will appear when the disease is in an advanced stage. About 80 percent of the patients with pancreatic cancer was diagnosed at an advanced stage.

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It is very difficult to diagnose pancreatic cancer early to provide effective treatment. The experts say the best option to cure pancreatic cancer is to identify cancer early and then surgically remove the tumor and the surrounding tissue.

The following are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

  • Stomach pain (abdominal pain or tummy ache).
  • Weight loss.
  • Extreme tiredness or fatigue.

The risk factors for pancreatic cancer are.

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Published on July 19, 2018


The Diabetes News Chronicle does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information in Diabetes News Chronicle is to support and not to replace medical advice given by the surgeon or physician or doctor. The published article is not a medical advice by the OWNER of the "Diabetes News Chronicle" website or by the AUTHOR of the article.

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