Dr. Gregory Echt explains the research findings on the link between pancreatic cancer and new-onset diabetes. The study was funded in part by the Sandler-Kenner Foundation which was initiated by Dr. & Mrs. Gregory Echt.

Pancreatic cancer is a lethal malignancy and represents the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. The symptoms of pancreatic cancer manifest in a patient according to the location of the tumor in the pancreas. Most of the malignancies of pancreatic cancer are found inside the head of the pancreas while about 25% of them occur in the tail or body of the pancreas. They present different symptoms relating to their location in the pancreas.

Pancreatic cancer symptoms vary with the location of the malignancy. Malignancies within the tail or body of the pancreas present symptoms such as back pain while those within the head present symptoms of jaundice, weight loss, steatorrhea and acholic stools,” explained Dr. Echt, Founder and Chairman of the Sandler-Kenner Foundation.

According to research findings funded in part by the Sandler-Kenner Foundation, new-onset diabetes mellitus (DM2) in adults can be an indication of the presence of pancreatic cancer as seen in the facts below:

  • New onset diabetes is DM2 that was diagnosed within 36 months.
  • About 80% of pancreatic cancer patients have developed hyperglycemia and DM2.
  • For long-standing DM2, a diagnosis that has been longer than 36 months, there is a risk that a patient will develop pancreatic cancer according to epidemiological studies.
  • The role of DM2 as a potential screening test for pancreatic cancer is under investigation.
  • Pancreatic cancer and DM2 both share common risk factors such as obesity, family history, and age.
  • Of the more than 2000 patients who underwent a study after being diagnosed with diabetes for pancreatic cancer development, 0.85% of them were found to have pancreatic cancer in three years’ time.
  • Another study conducted on high-risk patients (African American) showed that 32% of them developed diabetes. Some of them developed pancreatic cancer while others were found to have new-onset diabetes after diagnosis.
  • Pancreatic cancer has been found to be associated with diabetes in patients between the ages of 65 to 75 years. It was concluded that new onset diabetes is an indication for pancreatic cancer manifestation. There is a high prevalence of DM2 in pancreatic cancer patients as compared to other patients with lung, colorectal, prostate and breast cancer.

“The role of DM2 in screening pancreatic cancer is still being investigated,” continued Dr. Echt,”But medical practitioners need to consider it as both sequelae and risk factor for pancreatic cancer when evaluating patients with new onset and long-standing diabetes.”