Diabetics Are Survivors

Lung cancer patients with diabetes had better survival rates

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Usually a pre-existing condition does not improve chances for survival. For lung cancer and diabetes, that may not be the case.

In a new study, researchers found an interesting link between lung cancer and diabetes. Patients with diabetes and lung cancer had a higher rate of survival than patients with lung cancer but without diabetes.

"If you have diabetes, ask your doctor if you are healthy enough to undergo treatment. "

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Trondheim University studied 1,677 lung cancer patients and examined the connection between lung cancer and diabetes and its effect on cancer. In the first year, survival rates were 43 percent for diabetic patients and 28 percent for non-diabetic patients, in the second year, 19 percent compared to 11 percent and in the third year, 3 percent compared to 1 percent.

One possible explanation, but not the only reason, for this increased survival may be due to how diabetes affects cancer traveling through the body. Diabetics have a lower frequency of cancer spreading in the body. For lung cancer, the main cause of death is not due to malignant tumors in the lung but because the lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body. While this may be an advantage, researchers could not really explain the high survival rates for diabetics.

Aside from possible future benefits, this study can help diabetic patients with treatment currently. Diabetes is usually considered a pre-existing condition that prevents certain types of treatment. According to the researchers, just because a patient with lung cancer is diabetic but otherwise healthy, it should not prevent that patient from receiving standard types of treatment.

Researchers did not give a reason for why this may be the case but said the results deserved to be looked at more closely. 

This study will be published in the November edition of Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

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Review Date: 
October 18, 2011
Last Updated:
October 18, 2011