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Diabetes May Mean Worse Long-Term Outcomes for Breast Cancer Survivors

MONDAY, June 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer is tough to beat, but if you also have diabetes and poor blood sugar control your long-term risk of death rises, researchers report.

Their study included 488 women with metastatic breast cancer, which is cancer that has spread to other organs. Overall survival rates five years after cancer diagnosis was similar between the 50% of women in the study with diabetes and those without diabetes.

But among the women who survived at least eight years after their breast cancer diagnosis, survival rates at 10 years were 67% for those with diabetes and 87% for those without diabetes.

Survival rates at 10 years were also higher among those with good blood sugar control (83%) compared to those with poor blood sugar control (63%), according to the study presented Sunday at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, in Atlanta. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"Our findings suggest that in patients with breast cancer who have a relatively good prognosis despite their cancer diagnosis, a more proactive management of blood sugar may lead to a longer life span," said lead researcher Dr. Y.M. Melody Cheung, from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston.

"These findings are important as they suggest that diabetes treatment and blood sugar goals should be tailored specifically to patients even with advanced cancer based on their projected prognosis," she said in a meeting news release.

This is the first study to specifically examine the effect of blood sugar control on cancer outcomes in advanced breast cancer patients, according to Cheung.

"It remains uncertain whether control of blood sugars in patients with diabetes and breast cancer can improve the outcomes of the cancer itself," she said.

“In some instances, blood sugar control may not be strongly pursued by doctors, especially in cases where the cancer is advanced, and strict diabetic control may be considered overly burdensome for patients," Cheung noted. "A link between poor blood sugar control and worse cancer outcomes may modify the way doctors treat diabetes in patients with advanced breast cancer."

More information

There's more on breast cancer at the American Cancer Society.

SOURCE: Endocrine Society, news release, June 11, 2022

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