It’s well known that uncontrolled diabetes leads to heart disease, stroke and many other medical conditions. Diabetes affects women in many ways, causing difficulties during pregnancy such as a miscarriage or affecting the unborn child. Diabetic women are also at greater risk of a heart attack at a younger age, than women without diabetes.
There’s all the more reason for women to be cautious as new research indicates that women with diabetes are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer. This, say the scientists, could explain the higher cancer mortality among women with diabetes.
The main points of the study are as follows:
- Breast cancer stage at diagnosis was evaluated in women aged 20-105 years who were newly diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during 2007-2012
- Of the 38,000 plus breast cancer patients analyzed, 6,115 (15.9 per cent) reported having diabetes
- Diabetic women were 14 per cent more likely to present with Stage II breast cancer
- 21 per cent were more likely to have Stage III breast cancer
- 16 per cent of them were more likely to have with Stage IV cancer
- Lower mammogram rates were seen among women with diabetes, which might have also accounted for later stage cancer
- Compared to women without diabetes, those with diabetes had a higher risk of lymph node metastases (cancer spreading) and larger tumors
- The risk of advanced stage breast cancer was found to be the greatest in younger women and those with longer-standing diabetes
In most of the patients diagnosed with Stage II or III breast cancer, this meant a 15 per cent decrease in five-year survival for diabetes patients at the time of cancer diagnosis.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends timely screenings to maintain breast health. In your 20s and 30s, you should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) by a professional once every 3 years. After you turn 40, a CBE is recommended every year. Breast self exams (BSE) can be started when a women starts her 20s.
This study suggests that to reduce the risk of later-stage detection, changes need to be made in breast cancer screening and detection practices among patients with diabetes.
Genetics plays a role in developing diabetes, but an unhealthy lifestyle and obesity increases your risks. There are many ways you reduce your chances of developing this chronic condition such as managing your weight, exercising regularly and being careful about your diet.