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Research launched into diabetes and pancreatic cancer link

Monday March 16th, 2020

Two new research projects will examine the link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer, it has been announced.

The charity, Pancreatic Cancer Action, will work with the University of Surrey and South East Cancer Alliance and Bromley CCG on the studies, which will look to identify an opportunity for early diagnosis in patients with diabetes.

The first project, with a research team from the University of Surrey, is to outline the differences in diabetes caused by pancreatic cancer and those cases that are not.

There is evidence that people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer and that diabetes can be a symptom of the disease.

However, most people with diabetes do not have pancreatic cancer or go onto get it.

Lead researcher Agz Lemanska said pancreatic cancer is a relatively rare condition that does not always show symptoms in the early stages. However, many people with pancreatic cancer were diagnosed with diabetes before showing any other symptoms of the disease.

“It is difficult for GPs to suspect or recognise pancreatic cancer,” she said. “We want to contribute to the identification of risk factors and symptoms that when considered together could bring earlier diagnosis in pancreatic cancer.”

It is hoped the findings could identify a group of patients with new onset diabetes that are at risk of pancreatic cancer.

The second project will see Pancreatic Cancer Action working with the South East Cancer Alliance and Bromley CCG to identify patients who may be at risk of pancreatic cancer.

The study will involve patients with newly diagnosed diabetes, all of whom will receive an experimental blood test and CT scan to test for possible pancreatic cancer.

The team will compare patients who are diagnosed with the condition compared to those who are not, including age, weight and risks for pancreatic cancer, any other symptoms and blood test results to identify patients who are likely to be at a higher risk of the disease.

If patients who are referred are confirmed to have pancreatic cancer, the study will have successfully identified a subgroup of patients that will benefit from early diagnosis.

It will be the first time that the blood test has been tested in primary care with referrals from patients GPs.

If it proves effective in identifying patients with pancreatic cancer, the researchers hope it could result in a simple screening test for pancreatic cancer in patients with diabetes.

Rebecca Rice, health and policy manager at Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: “Carrying out both of these research projects carries several advantages. The first project will allow us to identify differences between patients with diabetes caused by pancreatic cancer and those who are not.

“This will support existing research into pancreatic cancer and diabetes and help GPs know which of their patients are at risk and should be referred for tests.

“The second project can build on this evidence and use conclusions from the study to see if they apply in a real-world setting. This project also has the potential to diagnose patients earlier from its outset and may be replicated on a national scale.”

Tags: Cancer | Diabetes | Internal Medicine | UK News

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