Diabetes and pancreatic cancer affect the same organs, but there is more in common than just that. People, who have diabetes have greater likelihood of having pancreatic cancer. Diabetes affects around 30 million Americans. Pancreatic cancer is found in nearly 50,000 people every year.
Diabetes is a sign that pancreatic cancer may follow. Researchers said that people with diabetes are a little bit more likely to get pancreatic cancer as compared to those, who do not have diabetes. Pancreatic cancer can also cause diabetes. Around 50% of people with diabetes have pancreatic cancer. After removal of cancer, blood sugar levels go back to normal.
Doctors are finding a way to spot pancreatic cancer as early as possible in people with diabetes. Most pancreatic cancer cases are not diagnosed till they are fully developed and spread. This is because there are no symptoms or symptoms are not very clear like back pain which is generally not associated with pancreatic cancer.
Doctors can spot pancreatic cancer by using CT scans and MRI. However, these are expensive methods of testing. So, doctors need to find a way to screen people, who have the maximum chances of getting pancreatic cancer.
According to Dr. Suresh Chari, professor at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, people, who are diagnosed with diabetes after the age of 50, have 1% chance of having pancreatic cancer, which is eight times higher than the general population.
A study is being conducted to identify people with diabetes, who have higher chances of getting pancreatic cancer. This study will test around 10,000 people with diabetes, who will undergo blood tests every month. The aim of the study is to identify people with diabetes, who are at a greater risk of getting pancreatic cancer, and to screen such individuals through various tests like MRI. This will also help in screening people for prediabetes.
People with diabetes should not be scared about getting cancer as chances are less than 1%. Also, the highest risk is during the first 1- 2 years. They should be more careful about the symptoms. Also, they should see a doctor if they have symptoms like bloating and weight loss for no apparent reason. If there is cancer running in the family of a patient, he/she should speak to a genetic counselor.