European researchers have determined that the diagnosis and identification of diabetes type 3c (pancreatogenic diabetes) could lead to the early detection of pancreatic cancer in patients. Due to absence of symptoms in the early stages, pancreatic cancer has an incredibly high mortality rate (around 95%) since it is usually diagnosed too late and in the very late stages of the disease.
Findings by The Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Group, led by Núria Malats at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), and published in The Gut BMJ, concluded that in 26% of cases, development of diabetes was caused by the early stages of the pancreatic cancer, rather than the cancer causing diabetes as previously thought.
Type 3c diabetes is characterised by an inflammation of the pancreas that interrupts insulin production. As a relatively newly identified type of diabetes, estimated to represent around 5-10% of all diabetes cases in Western countries, it is often misdiagnosed as diabetes type 2. With the diabetes diagnosis usually presenting itself prior to the cancer diagnosis, early detection of cancer may be possible if patients are classified at risk when diabetes is diagnosed and subsequently screened for pancreatic cancer.
“Our team turned the equation around and, for the first time, we asked the question whether pancreatic cancer could cause diabetes. Using innovative epidemiological and statistical analysis strategies, we found that pancreatic cancer is the cause of the development of diabetes type 3c in 26% of cases.”
Further studies are required. Read more on the study here.