Up to two years before a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, 40 percent of patients are diagnosed with diabetes. Mayo Clinic researchers feel this is an important indicator to study , as pancreatic cancer does not show obvious symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer until the cancer has reached an advanced stage. At this time, researchers believe pancreatic cancer is the cause for the onset of diabetes, not that diabetes leads to pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the US primarily due to the fact that it is not normally diagnosed in its earliest stages. If Mayo Clinic researchers are correct, someone newly-diagnosed with diabetes might also be checked for pancreatic cancer. The study will involve older adults but could eventually be significant in understanding how to effectively diagnosis the disease at an earlier stage regardless of age.