Patients with diabetes had a significantly higher risk of most cancers, but only in the 10 years prior to and in the 3 months after diabetes diagnosis, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

Previous research has demonstrated an increase of several cancers in people with diabetes; however, data surrounding the relationship between the time of diabetes diagnosis and the detection of cancer are limited.

For the study, researchers at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, retrospectively analyzed data from a population-based cohort study of more than 1 million adults residing in Ontario. The association between diabetes diagnosis and the incidence of cancer was assessed in 3 time periods: within the 10 years before diabetes diagnosis; within the first 3 months after diabetes diagnosis; and from 3 months to 10 years after diabetes diagnosis.

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Results showed that patients with diabetes were significantly more likely to have a cancer diagnosis within the 10 years prior to diabetes diagnosis compared with those without diabetes (odds ratio, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.19-1.27).

Researchers also found that cancer incidence was significantly higher in patients with diabetes within the first 3 months after diabetes diagnosis (hazard ratio [HR], 1.62; 95% CI, 1.52-1.74), but there was no increased risk of cancer in the 3-month to 10-year period after diabetes diagnosis (HR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.95-0.98).

Of note, investigators observed similar trends for individual cancer types.

“The highest risk period was observed within the first 3 months after a diabetes diagnosis, suggesting a partial role of detection bias in the apparent relationship between diabetes and cancer,” the authors conclude.


1. Lega IC, Wilton AS, Austin PC, Fischer HD, Johnson JA, Lipscombe LL. The temporal relationship between diabetes and cancer: a population-based study. Cancer. 2016 Jul 11. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30095. [Epub ahead of print]