Diabetes may be an early manifestation of pancreatic cancer

22 June, 2018, 06:18 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Source WikiCommons

Previous epidemiologic studies have shown a temporal association between diabetes and pancreatic cancer, and these studies have demonstrated that patients who have recent-onset diabetes have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. The study found six genes clearly linked to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer: BRCA1, BRCA2, CDKN2A, TP53, MLH1 and ATM.

Ninety-five percent of people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), but because of the way that data is published true survival rates for this type of the disease were previously not known. "But our studies provide hope that pancreatic cancer can indeed be diagnosed at an earlier stage when it is resectable".

Fergus Couch, Ph.D., a senior author on the study said that this research offers the most inclusive data till now reinforcing genetic testing for all pancreatic cancer patients. These genetic mutations were identified in 5.5 percent of all pancreatic cancer patients, including 5.2 percent of cancer patients without a family history of pancreatic cancer.

According to who statistics, there are about 350 million diabetic patients and every nine out of ten cases suffer from type II diabetes. Researchers grouped these patients by their tumor volume at the time of the surgical removal. Researchers have observed no effect in those who have had diabetes for more than three years.

The study harnessed a DNA custom gene panel called QIAseq, which looked at the coding regions of DNA associated with cancer predisposition genes (this is via exome sequencing, as opposed to whole-genome sequencing [WGS]). Among this group, 128 participants also developed pancreatic cancer (age-adjusted incidence rate, 72.3 per 100,000).


Matrisian added, "We strongly recommend all pancreatic cancer patients to undergo molecular profiling of their tumor, so adding germline testing can enhance the information gathered about that patient's disease, their treatment options and how their relatives may be affected as well".

In this group, researchers were able to show blood sugars rise 30 to 36 months before the diagnosis of cancer.

In addition to linking six distinct genes to the disease, researchers found that a prior family history of pancreatic cancer alone can not predict the presence of cancer-associated germline mutations.

Patients who have these genetic mutations are at a substantially higher risk for pancreatic cancer, but that does not definitively mean they will develop the disease.

"This striking relationship between recent-onset diabetes is unique to pancreatic cancer, and is not seen in breast, prostate and colorectal cancer in the cohort", said one of the paper's authors, Wendy Setiawan. This finding is significant in part because the data suggest that family members should have DNA testing to understand their risk for cancer.

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