Within-class differences in cancer risk for sulfonylurea treatments in patients with type 2 diabetes (ZODIAC-55) - a study protocol

BMC Cancer. 2017 Jun 23;17(1):444. doi: 10.1186/s12885-017-3433-z.


Background: Patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) are at increased risk for developing cancer. As approximately 8% of the world's population is living with T2D, even a slight increase in cancer risk could result in an enormous impact on the number of persons developing cancer. In addition, several glucose lowering drug classes for treating patients with T2D have been associated with a difference in risk of cancer overall, and especially for obesity related cancers. In what way and to what degree cancer risk is modified by the use of different sulfonylureas (SU) is unclear. The primary aim of this study will be to evaluate within-class SU differences in obesity related cancer risk. Secondary aims will be to investigate within-class SU differences in risk for all cancers combined and site-specific cancers separately (i.e. breast, colorectal, prostate, bladder and lung cancer) and to account for duration-response relationships between individual SU use and cancer risk.

Methods: Patients will be selected from a Dutch primary care cohort of patients with T2D linked with the Dutch Cancer Registration (ZODIAC-NCR). Within this cohort study annually collected clinical data (e.g. blood pressure, weight, HbA1c) and nationwide data on cancer incidence are available. Time-dependent cox proportional hazard analyses will be performed to evaluate SU cancer risk, adjusted for potential confounders.

Discussion: This study will be the first prospective cohort study investigating within-class SU differences in cancer risk and could contribute to improved decision making regarding the individual drugs within the class of SUs, and possibly improve quality of life and result in an increased cost-effectiveness of healthcare in patients with T2D.

Trial registration: Nederlands Trialregister ( NTR6166 ), 6 Jan 2017.

Keywords: Cancer; Sulfonylureas; Type 2 diabetes; Within-class differences.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / therapeutic use


  • Sulfonylurea Compounds