Women With Diabetes Missing Essential Cancer Screening

An analysis of data from studies over two decades finds that women with diabetes are less likely than those without the condition to get screened for cervical, breast and colorectal cancers.

The burdens of managing a chronic disease like diabetes may lead women to skip recommended cancer screenings.

Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe, an endocrinologist at Women’s College Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto said, “We know people with diabetes have a small, but significantly increased risk for certain kinds of cancer. We wanted to find out if lower cancer screening is contributing to these differences.

“And, if there is a higher risk of cancer, we wanted to make sure we’re at least catching the cancers early,” Lipscombe told Reuters Health in a recent interview.

The authors searched for studies done between 1997 and 2018 on rates of recommended screening tests in adults with diabetes: mammography for breast cancer and Papanicolaou (Pap) test for cervical cancer in women, and fecal blood or colonoscopy tests for colorectal cancer in women and men.

Of the 37 studies included in the analysis, 21 were from the U.S., three were from Canada and the rest from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Study groups ranged in size from 129 to 732,687 people.

Overall in the studies, women with diabetes were 24% less likely than women without diabetes to get cervical cancer screening and 17% less likely to get breast cancer screening, researchers reported in Diabetologia.

When the study team looked at rates of colorectal screening, women with diabetes were 14% less likely than women without the disease to be screened, while men with and without diabetes had similar screening rates.

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