Diabetes, high blood pressure linked to colon cancer recurrence

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A new study shows that patients with early stage colon cancer who also have diabetes or high blood pressure (both components of metabolic syndrome) have a greater risk for a recurrence of the cancer and a higher mortality rate compared to colon cancer patients without the diseases.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions that affect one in five American adults. It can include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol and high amounts of lipids in the blood.

"Metabolic syndrome as a whole had no apparent effect on colon cancer recurrence or survival," said senior author Nestor Esnaola, M.D., MPH, MBA, Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, Professor of Vice-Chair of Clinical and Academic Affairs in the Department of Surgery at Temple University. "When we teased out and analyzed the effect of each of its components, however, the data told a different story."

The researchers found 48% percent of patients who did not have diabetes were still alive five years after diagnosis, compared to 41% percent of patients with diabetes. They also found that cancer recurrence rates at five years were approximately 8% higher in patients with diabetes or hypertension.

Patients with abnormally high levels of lipids in the blood had a lower risk of recurrence and death from colon cancer.

The researchers used data from the large population-based database National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program and Medicare data from 1998 to 2006 on 36,000 patients with colon cancer. In the group, 19.5% were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

The report was published Dec. 18 the online publication of the journal CANCER.


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