Women's College Research Institute

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Diabetes associated with advanced stage breast cancer at diagnosis

July 2015

 Dr. Lorraine LipscombeWomen with diabetes have a higher incidence of breast cancer and are more likely to die from it than women without diabetes.

“To better understand the association between diabetes and breast cancer, we conducted a study to examine if women with diabetes are perhaps being diagnosed at a later stage of breast cancer and how this might be influencing their outcomes,” says Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe, endocrinologist and scientist at Women’s College Hospital.

Linking population-based health databases, Dr. Lipscombe led a team to examine the stage of breast cancer at diagnosis in nearly 40,000 women, 6,000 of whom had diabetes. 

Published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, the study found that women with diabetes, particularly younger patients, are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage (stage II or III breast cancer). The team also found that women with diabetes are less likely to be regularly screened prior to diagnosis and have a greater risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body than women without diabetes.

“Our findings suggest that women with diabetes may be predisposed to faster growing tumours, increasing their likelihood of being diagnosed at a more advanced stage of the disease, even with regular screening practices,” says Dr. Lipscombe.

She and her team believe that more investigation is needed to determine whether women with diabetes have more aggressively spreading cancer.

“Further research will help us improve breast cancer screening and detection practices for people with diabetes, so that their cancers are detected at an earlier stage,” says Dr. Lipscombe.

To read the abstract, click here.

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