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Diabetes raises cancer-surgery death

People with diabetes are at substantially greater risk of dying after undergoing cancer surgery, research released this morning shows.

In a meta-analysis of existing studies, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that people with diabetes are 50 percent more likely to die after cancer surgery than diabetes-free patients are. The paper is published in the April issue of the journal "Diabetes Care."

The finding further complicates the diabetes/cancer relationship, according to Hsin-Chieh Yeh, one of the study's lead authors. Quoted in a press release from the American Diabetes Association, Yeh said, "We already know that diabetes appears to increase the risk for some cancers. This study shows that having pre-existing diabetes also increases the chance of post-operative mortality in newly diagnosed cancer patients."

The relationship was particularly strong for surgeries for cancers of the colon and esophagus. Yeh notes that diabetes is known to increase post-surgery risk of infection and cardiovascular and renal complications among people who undergo surgery for reasons other than cancer.

So, if you have diabetes and are diagnosed with cancer, what should you do? Talk to your surgeon. Yeh says that managing diabetes in light of cancer surgery should become "part of the preoperative discussion."

Look for me and the other Local Living writers at @wposthome/local-living. And keep track of my "Me Minus 10" effort to lose 10 pounds before I turn 50 at

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  March 29, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Cancer , Diabetes  
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The problem is, we don't know how to manage diabetes around the time of surgery, different from what we're doing already, so that mortality rates improve.

As the investigators wrote, "more research is needed." Sure, you can talk to your surgeon about it, but he's going to tell you what I did.

Nevertheless, this is a new, important medical fact that can now be addressed.


Posted by: SteveParkerMD | March 29, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

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