Background & aims: Although diabetes occurs frequently in pancreatic cancer, the value of new-onset diabetes as a marker of underlying pancreatic cancer is unknown.
Methods: We assembled a population-based cohort of 2122 Rochester, Minnesota, residents age > or =50 years who first met standardized criteria for diabetes between January 1, 1950, and December 31, 1994, and identified those who developed pancreatic cancer within 3 years of meeting criteria for diabetes. We compared observed rates of pancreatic cancer with expected rates based on the Iowa Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results registry. In a nested case control study, we compared body mass index (BMI) and smoking status in diabetes subjects with and without pancreatic cancer.
Results: Of 2122 diabetic subjects, 18 (0.85%) were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer within 3 years of meeting criteria for diabetes; 10 of 18 (56%) were diagnosed <6 months after first meeting criteria for diabetes, and 3 were resected. The observed-to-expected ratio of pancreatic cancer in the cohort was 7.94 (95% CI, 4.70-12.55). Compared with subjects without pancreatic cancer, diabetic subjects with pancreatic cancer were more likely to have met diabetes criteria after age 69 (OR = 4.52, 95% CI, 1.61-12.74) years but did not differ significantly with respect to BMI values (29.2 +/- 6.8 vs 26.5 +/- 5.0, respectively). A larger proportion of those who developed pancreatic cancer were ever smokers (92% vs 69%, respectively), but this did not reach statistical significance.
Conclusions: Approximately 1% of diabetes subjects aged > or =50 years will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer within 3 years of first meeting criteria for diabetes. The usefulness of new-onset diabetes as marker of early pancreatic cancer needs further evaluation.