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Diabetes Onset After 50 Could Be An Early Pancreatic Cancer Indicator: Study

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A new study indicates that the onset of Type 2 diabetes after the age of 50 could be an early sign of pancreatic cancer. That's the deadliest form of cancer, with just an 8 percent overall five-year survival rate.  ( Tesa Robbins | Pixabay )

Type 2 diabetes onset after the age of 50 could be an early indicator of pancreatic cancer, a new study claims.

Pancreatic cancer is the most deadly type of cancer, with a five-year survival rate of just eight percent overall. There are several risk factors that may increase the likelihood of pancreatic cancer, such as family history, smoking, obesity, and others but it now looks like diabetes could be an indicator, too.

Diabetes Link To Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers from the University of Southern California have revealed that diabetes is associated with a significantly higher risk - more than twice as high - of pancreatic cancer in Hispanic people and African Americans.

It's interesting to note that compared to long-standing diabetes, recent-onset diabetes was linked to a 2.3-fold higher increase in pancreatic cancer risks. The study spanned two decades and assessed nearly 50,000 Hispanic and African American men and women with ages above 50.

Of all the participants, the study found roughly 16,000 who developed diabetes and roughly 400 who developed pancreatic cancer. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer was more than twice as likely for those who developed diabetes than for those who didn't, says Wendy Setiawan, lead author of the study and associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.

Detecting Early Pancreatic Cancer

Setiawan highlights the importance of finding a more effective solution to detect patients with early pancreatic cancer. This study can lead to a better understanding of the process and the risk factors, and could, in turn, allow researchers to determine which populations are at higher risk.

The lead study author further notes that more than half of the people with diabetes and pancreatic cancer got their diabetes diagnostic within three years of their cancer diagnostic.

Setiawan further explains that looking at how patients with pancreatic cancer develop Type 2 diabetes reveals that the diabetes diagnosis is very close to the time of the cancer diagnosis.

The findings suggest that the onset of diabetes, particularly after the age of 50, could be an early indicator of pancreatic cancer for some patients. Consequently, it's advisable that patients diagnosed with new-onset diabetes later in life monitor their risks of developing pancreatic cancer.

Nevertheless, the chances of pancreatic cancer are still low even for those with a diabetes onset after 50. While pancreatic cancer is relatively rare, diabetes is far more common even at a later age.

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