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Women With Diabetes More Likely to be Diagnosed With Advanced-Stage Breast Cancer

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Key Points

  • From an analysis of more than 38,000 women with breast cancer, 6,115 (15.9%) of the women had diabetes.
  • Results also show lower mammography rates, a higher risk of lymph node metastases, and larger tumors in women with diabetes.
  • The majority of diabetes patients presented with stage II or III breast cancer, which translated into a 15% decrease in 5-year survival.

Diabetes is associated with more advanced stage breast cancer, according to a new study by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Women's College Hospital.

The findings, published by Lipscombe et al in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, confirm a strong link between diabetes and later-stage breast cancer at diagnosis for Canadian women.

“Our findings suggest that women with diabetes may be predisposed to more advanced stage breast cancer, which may be a contributor to their higher cancer mortality,” said Lorraine Lipscombe, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Adjunct Scientist at ICES and Women's College Research Institute.

Study Findings

In the study, Dr. Lipscombe examined the stage at diagnosis among women aged 20 to 105 years who were newly diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2007 and 2012.

From an analysis of more than 38,000 women with breast cancer, 6,115 (15.9%) of the women had diabetes. Breast cancer patients with diabetes were significantly more likely to present with advanced-stage breast cancer than those without diabetes. Women with diabetes were 14% more likely to present with stage II breast cancer, 21% more likely to present with stage III breast cancer, and 16% were more likely to present with stage IV than to present with stage I breast cancer.

The results also show lower mammography rates in women with diabetes, which could account for later-stage disease. Women with diabetes also had a higher risk of lymph node metastases and larger tumors than women without diabetes.

“In addition, the risk of advanced-stage breast cancer was greatest in younger women and those with longer-standing diabetes,” added Dr. Lipscombe.

The study showed that the majority of diabetes patients presented with stage II or III breast cancer, which translated into a 15% decrease in 5-year survival for diabetes patients at the time of cancer diagnosis.

The researchers suggest that breast cancer screening and detection practices may need to be modified in patients with diabetes to reduce the chances of later-stage detection.

Dr. Lipscombe is the corresponding author of the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment article.

This study was supported by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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