People with type 2 diabetes often get their cancer diagnosis too late

Credit: Artem Podrez / Pexels.

Until now, it has not been known whether people are at greater risk of having cancer diagnosed when it is at an advanced stage if they have a pre-existing cardiometabolic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.

In a study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, scientists found that people with type 2 diabetes who develop cancer are more likely to be diagnosed with the advanced disease if the condition is one that is not screened for routinely.

They say that unlike breast and bowel (or “colorectal”) cancer, for which routine population screening is available in many countries, cancers such as lung, ovarian, and prostate, do not have national screening programs.

These cancers were more likely to be diagnosed in people with type 2 diabetes only once the cancer had started to spread (metastasize) beyond the original tumor to other parts of the body.

The results underline the importance of paying particular attention to patients with pre-existing diseases of the heart, blood vessels, or metabolism, such as type 2 diabetes so that signs of cancer can be identified at an earlier stage when it is more likely to be treated successfully.

In the study, the team examined 11,945 cases of cancer diagnosed between 1992 and 2012.

They looked at those cases where patients had already been diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, both or none of these, and conducted analyses based on cancers that could be screened for and cancers for which there were no population-based screening programs.

Overall, during 15 years of follow-up, among the 11,945 people diagnosed with cancer, 87% had no pre-existing diseases at the time they were diagnosed with cancer, 5% of cancers occurred in people with a pre-existing diagnosis of heart disease, 7% in people with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis and 1% in people with a diagnosis of both heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

For the 7,400 cases of non-screened cancers, the researchers found that people who had pre-existing type 2 diabetes had a big 26% increased risk of being diagnosed when their cancer had metastasized, compared to people who did not have pre-existing cardiometabolic conditions.

Twenty-six cases were detected before the cancer had started to spread and 41 cases were detected after it had metastasized.

The team says for cancers for which there are no national screening programs, the current results may prompt policymakers to broaden the scope of public health recommendations to encompass patients affected by cardiometabolic diseases and cancer.

If you care about cancer, please read studies that a low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies that blueberries strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome, and results showing vitamin D could improve blood pressure in people with diabetes.

The study was conducted by Dr. Anna Jansana et al and presented at the 13th European Breast Cancer Conference.

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