Researchers from the University of Melbourne reviewed data from 1973 to 2013 to conclude that there was a time-dependent link between being diagnosed with diabetes and pancreatic cancer.
The review of 88 international studies till date, is the largest analysis on the topic published, researchers said.
Dr Mehrdad Nikfarjam, liver, pancreas and biliary specialist from the Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne said pancreatic cancer was often diagnosed when at an advanced, incurable stage.
“This is an important paper that highlights for doctors and in patients with newly diagnosed diabetes without an obvious cause, a diagnosis of underlying pancreatic cancer should be considered,” Nikfarjam said.
“The study revealed the risk of pancreatic cancer, was greatest after the diagnosis of diabetes but remained elevated long after the diagnosis. The presence of diabetes remains a modest risk factor for the development of a cancer later in life,” he added.
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“The priority on screening should be on patients with new-onset diabetes but can later be expanded to long-standing diabetic patients,” said Nikfarjam.
“New onset diabetes is more prevalent in people over the age of 55. It may be important to consider screening all newly diagnosed diabetics for pancreatic cancer, particularly those without significant risk factors for developing diabetes in the first place,” he said.
The study was published in the journal Annals of Surgical Oncology.