Controlling and Surviving Two Diseases

Colorectal cancer patients with diabetes had higher mortality rates

July 25, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Diabetes brings with it a host of other possible health problems. Now, people living with diabetes have one more important reason to keep their disease under control. It has been established that diabetes increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

A new study has discovered that colorectal cancer patients with diabetes had a greater risk than patients without diabetes of dying from all causes and specifically from colorectal cancer.

According to one cancer expert who was not involved in this study, controlling diabetes should remain a top priority for patients who also have colorectal cancer.

"Work with you doctor to manage your diabetes."

Francesca Bella, of the Fondazione IRCCS - Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori in Milan, Italy, led other Italian researchers in analyzing the impact diabetes has on the course of colorectal cancer.

These researchers were looking specifically at the influence diabetes has on mortality (death) from all causes and specifically from colorectal cancer.

According to the authors, colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in Italy.

In the US, colorectal cancer is the third most prevalent cancer. Nearly 143,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year.

For this study, 1,039 colorectal cancer patients diagnosed between 2003 and 2005 were selected from the Italian Cancer Registries database.  

Of the study participants aged 15 to 99 years, 373 individuals had diabetes and 666 did not have diabetes.

The researchers found that those with a diabetes diagnosis or blood sugar levels of 126 mg/dl or more were older and less likely to have received adjuvant (after primary cancer therapy) treatment.

After reviewing the data, the study discovered that colorectal cancer patients with diabetes were 41 percent more likely to die of all causes than were cancer survivors without diabetes.

And those with diabetes were 36 percent more likely to die of colorectal cancer than were survivors who did not have diabetes.

Alok A. Khorana, MD, director of the Gastrointestinal Malignancies Program at Taussig Cancer Institute of Cleveland Clinic, told dailyRx News, “This study confirms that cancer patients who also have diabetes tend to have worse outcomes than similarly staged and matched cancer patients without diabetes.”

Dr. Khorana, who was not involved in this study, continued, "The mechanisms underlying this association are incompletely understood and deserving of further study. Clinicians treating patients with colorectal cancer and diabetes should ensure that diabetes control remains a top management priority and does not take a backseat to the management of the malignancy."

This research was published in the August issue of the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology.

The work was supported by Compagnia di San Paolo, the Fondazione Cariplo, Italy and the Centro Nazionale per la Prevenzione e il Controllo delle Malattie of the Italian Ministry of Health.

No conflicts of interest were declared.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 25, 2013
Last Updated:
July 26, 2013