According to an article recently published in the British Journal of Cancer, patients with type I diabetes are at an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
The pancreas is an organ surrounded by the stomach, small intestine, bile ducts (tubes that connect the liver to the small intestine), gallbladder, liver, and spleen. The pancreas helps the body break down food and produces hormones, such as insulin, to regulate the body’s storage and use of food.
There are approximately 33,730 new cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed in the United States every year, with 32,200 deaths attributed to this disease annually. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
Results from several studies have reported that patients with type II diabetes have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer (approximately 80–90% of all cases of diabetes are type II). While more is understood about type II diabetes and risk of pancreatic cancer, the relationship between type I diabetes and the risk of pancreatic cancer has not been explored extensively.
Researchers from the United Kingdom recently evaluated data from several clinical studies in an attempt to determine if there is an association between type I diabetes and the risk of pancreatic cancer. The data included nine studies, with 39 patients who had been diagnosed with type I diabetes. The researchers compared rates of pancreatic cancer among patients who did not have type I diabetes to pancreatic cancer rates among patients who did have type I diabetes.
- The risk of pancreatic cancer was increased twofold among patients with type I diabetes compared to those without type I diabetes.
- This risk is of pancreatic cancer for patients with type I diabetes is similar to that of patients with type II diabetes.
The researchers concluded that patients with type I diabetes have an approximate twofold increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Patients with type I diabetes may wish to speak with their physician regarding symptoms of pancreatic cancer or monitoring for the disease.
Reference: Stevens R, Roddam A, Beral V, et al. Pancreatic cancer in type 1 and young-onset diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Cancer. 2007; 96, 507-509.