Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer are nearly 50 percent more likely to die from any cause if they have diabetes, according to a study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The research found that diabetics are more likely to be diagnosed with a late-stage breast cancer, and also receive altered forms of treatment to avoid dangerous side effects related to diabetes that could potentially be less effective in curing the patient.
The results could mean more research on what role high levels of insulin play in tumor growth.
"When patients are faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer, which they see as an imminent threat to their lives, diabetes care often goes on the back burner, study leader Dr. Kimberly S. Peairs, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said in a press release.
"This research suggests we may need to proactively treat the diabetes as well as the cancer," Peairs said.
Peairs said diabetics are known to have a higher risk of breast cancer, with additional risks of obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, which suggests the higher death rate could be linked to being in an overall lower state of health than those breast cancer patients without diabetes.
The study was published in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and was funded by the American Cancer Society.