WCHN Launches New Study to Investigate Link Between Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer

On June 14, 2017, Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) announced its launch of a new study that will research the connection between pancreatic cancer and new-onset diabetes. This $2.7 million study will span 3 years and aims to discover a method to detect pancreatic cancer while it can still be cured.

On June 14, 2017, Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) announced their launch of a new study that will research the connection between pancreatic cancer and new-onset diabetes. This $2.7 million study will span 3 years and aims to discover a method to detect pancreatic cancer while it can still be cured.

Led by Richard Frank, MD, director of Clinical Cancer Research for WCHN, the study will research those older than 50 years who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the past year (new-onset). There is an estimated 7-fold increased risk of pancreatic cancer during the 3 years following the diagnosis of diabetes.

Since pancreatic cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the US, with a 5-year survival rate of 8%, the study aims use its link to new-onset diabetes as a starting point.

“We need to start somewhere,” explained Dr Steven Brandwein, a study co-investigator and Western Connecticut Medical Group gastroenterologist. “Our expansive health care network is uniquely positioned to spearhead this type of research, which requires strong collaboration with primary care physician groups, as well as specialists in endocrinology, radiology, gastroenterology, pathology and surgery, all of whom are part of the network family.”

The study will include annual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of its patients for 3 years. Dr Ronald Lee and Dr James Bauman’s specific MRI protocol will be used in the study, followed by an endoscopic ultrasound on any unusual lesions that could represent the presence of cancer or pre-cancer.

The study also requires blood samples from its participants every 6 months to form a serum biobank that could show a DNA sign of pancreatic cancer. By testing the blood samples in the study, the researchers hope to identify a biomarker that does not yet exist.

“We need to make serious inroads into the early diagnosis and treatment of this disease,” concluded Frank. “We hope this study makes a significant contribution to the field and, in the end, saves lives.”