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Diabetes and Subsequent Weight Loss Linked to an Increased Risk of Pancreatic Cancer 

Sep 26, 2020
Editor: Steve Freed, R.PH., CDE

Author: Destiny Funchess, PharmD Candidate, Tougaloo College, South College School of Pharmacy 

The case for expanding screening for pancreatic cancer in those with new onset of diabetes and weight loss. 

Pancreatic cancer is a major cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide due to a lack of effective screening and resistance to chemotherapy. It is also difficult to diagnose during the early stages due to the lack of distinct symptoms. Symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer typically include weight loss, fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, and nausea and can be associated with many other conditions. The location of the pancreas also makes it difficult for physicians to see during routine physical exams. Therefore, diagnosis is generally made at advanced stages when it has already affected other organs such as the lungs, liver, and lymph nodes. Pancreatic cancer is commonly known as Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma. There is a 5-year survival rate in the United States. Unfortunately, no screening test has been shown to lower the risk of dying from this cancer. However, radiologists, gastroenterologists, surgeons, pathologists, and genetic counselors work together to find new tests to detect pancreatic cancer early. Currently, the most common tests used are endoscopic ultrasound or MRI. 


A high body mass index or obesity has been associated with pancreatic cancer for many years. Diabetes, along with weight changes, has recently been associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer....

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