Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Link between Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers from the University of Melbourne have found an association between pancreatic cancer and diabetes.

In a review of 88 international studies from 1973 to 2013, clinicians and mathematicians found a time-dependent link between being diagnosed with diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

Dr Mehrdad Nikfarjam of the University of Melbourne said that pancreatic cancer was often diagnosed when at an advanced and incurable stage. “The study revealed the risk of pancreatic cancer was greatest after the diagnosis of diabetes but remained elevated long after the diagnosis,” Nikfarjam said. “The presence of diabetes remains a modest risk factor for the development of a cancer later in life.”

While the number of people with pancreatic cancer is relatively low, the study suggests that a screening program 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,” Nikfarjam said.

“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.”

The study was published in Annals of Surgical Oncology.