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Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer Study

According to a Mayo Clinic study, 40 percent of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed with diabetes, many months or even up to two years in some cases, prior to the diagnosis of cancer. The study was published in the journal Gastroenterology.

“Our previous studies have shown an association between recent diagnoses of diabetes and pancreatic cancer. We are now quite convinced that in most patients with pancreatic cancer, the diabetes is caused by the cancer and not the other way around,” said Dr. Suresh Chari, a gastroenterologist from the Mayo Clinic and lead study author. “Our next step is to identify a biomarker for pancreatic cancer-induced diabetes in order to screen patients with new-onset diabetes for early pancreatic cancer and provide surgical treatment as quickly as possible,” added Dr. Chari.

The research team reviewed the medical records of 736 pancreatic cancer patients and 1,875 healthy individuals with fasting blood glucose data in their medical records. They found that 40 percent of pancreatic cancer patients were diagnosed with diabetes, compared with only 20 percent of the healthy individuals with fasting glucose levels in the diabetic range.

Dr. Chari’s team is now working on identifying the differences between pancreatic cancer-induced diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In a previous study authored by Dr. Chari, it was found that only one in 125 patients over the age of 50 with new-onset diabetes will have pancreatic cancer. Their goal now is to cost effectively screen for pancreatic cancer using a blood test that can identify individuals with new-onset diabetes and are more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This will ensure early detection and increase the chances for successful surgical treatment.

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