1. Diabetes does not significantly increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
2. A sudden change in your diabetes may indicate a problem.
3. Always control your weight.
Pancreatic cancer and diabetes both affect the pancreas, which is responsible for the production of insulin. The body requires insulin to regulate glucose levels in the blood.
But what is the relationship between these two serious conditions?
The statistics are alarming: although it hardly represents 2.7 per cent of the 247,000 cases of cancer recorded in Spain each year, it is now the third cause of death due to cancer, after lung and colorectal cancer.
The disease is often not diagnosed until advanced, when it is aggressive and difficult to treat, and the number of new cases is increasing, despite a fall in significant risk factors such as smoking.
In comparison, diabetes is extremely common. In Spain, 286,000 people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus every year. The incidence of this type of diabetes in the adult population is 11.6 cases for every 1000 people.
It has been known for some time that diabetes is a risk factor for several types of cancer, including cancer of the pancreas. Recent research suggests that the risk may be even higher, although only slightly, for those with diabetes who develop the condition after the age of 50.
It is still not clear whether one condition causes the other or whether they share a similar underlying cause. The conclusion for those with diabetes is that the increased risk of pancreatic cancer is very small.
However, there are some circumstances to which particular attention should be paid.
If someone is slim, taking exercise and develops diabetes for no reason, or if they have a history of well-controlled diabetes which deteriorates suddenly, this may cause the doctor to question whether there is an underlying problem, which could include pancreatic cancer. Your doctor will take this into account in relation to other risk factors. These include family history of pancreatic or other types of cancer, smoking or damage to the pancreas due to habits such as excessive drinking. It is also important to remember that pancreatic cancer usually causes unexplained and unintentional weight loss.
Diabetes can worsen over time and require more medication to control it, for which reason it will usually be a simple deterioration in diabetes. However, it is always important to contact your doctor if your condition changes dramatically.
The key for those who are worried about these two conditions is diet and exercise. Weight control is most important, as it can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. If someone already has diabetes, it can reduce the risk of complications and diminish the risk of developing diabetes-related cancers, including pancreatic and endometrial cancers.
It is important that people are conscious of their ideal body weight and understand that obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes are risk factors for cancer. One thing we encounter repeatedly with many patients is that they are unaware they are overweight, their doctor never having advised them that they needed to lose weight. It has become so normal in today’s world to be severely overweight, that people are unaware that it has very real consequences.
COME AND SEE US ABOUT YOUR CASE OR THAT OF YOUR LOVED ONE. IN SPAIN, OUR ONCOLOGISTS AND SPECIALIST CONSULTANTS ARE LEADERS IN THEIR FIELD, AND RECOGNISED THROUGHOUT EUROPE. THEY WORK IN MULTIDISCIPLINARY COMMITTEES, AND THEIR AIM IS TO OBTAIN THE BEST RESULTS FOR YOU.
Dr. Cuesta Muñoz
Médico especialista en Endocrinología y Nutrición.
MSKK- Memorial Sloan Kettering Center / Asociación Española de Cáncer de Páncreas (ACanPan) / Estudio firstname.lastname@example.org / HC Marbella.
April 23, 2019
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