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Defeat Diabetes
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Diabetes, Heart Disease Can Herald Early GI Cancers

Posted: Friday, June 02, 2006

"The presence of diabetes or heart disease can be a signal for clinicians to evaluate patients' risk for digestive cancers.” “And begin treatment with Ace inhibitors, which may reduce the risk of colon, pancreatic and esophageal cancers."

Research presented at Digestive Disease Week® 2006 (DDW) now also demonstrates that these conditions can be warning signs for some types of digestive cancers, and may lead to early screening and interventions that may help prevent the onset of cancer or lead to earlier detection and treatment. Furthermore, certain treatments for these diseases may actually reduce digestive cancer risk.

"The presence of diabetes or heart disease can be a signal for clinicians to evaluate patients' risk for digestive cancers," said Randall W. Burt, M.D., professor of medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine and Interim Executive Director, Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. "The associations between these two diseases and cancer, as shown in these studies, provide a critical tool to diagnose cancer early when patients might benefit most from treatment. These studies also suggest that certain treatments for heart disease, in particular ACE inhibitors, may reduce the risk of colon, pancreatic and esophageal cancers."

Resectability of Pre-Symptomatic Pancreatic Cancer and its Relationship to Onset of Diabetes: A Retrospective Review of CT Scans and Fasting Glucose Values Prior to Diagnosis [Abstract 952]

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, claiming the lives of nearly 32,000 people in the United States each year. With few visible symptoms, pancreatic cancer is often difficult to catch early and many patients are not diagnosed until the cancer is too advanced for surgery.

Up to 80 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are diabetic and research now suggests that a recent diagnosis of diabetes may be a marker of early pancreatic cancer. This study looked at CT scans of pancreatic cancer patients who were also diabetic to determine if a new diabetes diagnosis indeed signals early pancreatic cancer, hoping that it would help with asymptomatic detection and a better chance of successful treatment with surgery.

Mario Pelaez-Luna, M.D., and study partners at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. examined the CT scans of 20 patients who had at least one abdominal scan prior to being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. These initial scans were reviewed to determine the condition of the patient's pancreas - no changes, some pancreatic duct narrowing or blockage, early, small tumors, or advanced tumors.

The 20 patients had undergone a total of 23 CT scans six or more months prior to their diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. All scans done more than six months prior to diagnosis showed no definite evidence of cancer. At the time of cancer diagnosis, 80 percent of the cancers were too advanced to be treated with surgery. With regard to the relationship to diabetes, all scans prior to the onset of diabetes were found normal. When patients first showed high blood sugar levels suggestive of diabetes, 85 percent still had a normal-appearing pancreas or showed early cancer; only 15 percent of cancers were advanced. The cancer was diagnosed, on average, five months after the diabetes first developed.

The research suggests that the number of pancreatic cancers amenable to surgical treatment can be greatly increased if the diagnosis is made even six months earlier. Diabetes associated with pancreatic cancer occurs at a time when the tumor is still treatable by surgery. Thus, a new diabetes diagnosis can be a warning sign that pancreatic cancer may be present, leading to an early cancer diagnosis with potentially better outcomes.

"Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat. By the time patients develop symptoms, the cancer is already at an advanced stage" said Mario Pelaez-Luna, M.D., lead author of the study. "However, discovering new links between pancreatic cancer and other conditions such as diabetes is helping us identify clues to early diagnosis. The only hope of offering surgical treatment to more patients with pancreatic cancer is diagnosing the disease before symptoms develop."


 

Source: Diabetes In Control: Research presented at Digestive Disease Week® 2006 (DDW)

 
 
 
 
 
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