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November 07, 2019

Women with diabetes are less likely to get cancer screenings, study finds

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Women with diabetes are less likely to get screened for cancer PhotoMIX Ltd./

Women with diabetes are less likely to be screened for cancer, according to a new study. Above, a diabetic checks their blood sugar levels.

The time-consuming nature of managing a chronic illness like diabetes may play a role in why women with diabetes are not following recommended cancer screenings, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed studies published between January 1, 1997 and July 18, 2018 that looked at the likelihood of individuals with and without diabetes getting screened for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers. 

Their findings, published in the medical journal Diabetologia, revealed that women with diabetes were 24% less likely than women without diabetes to get cervical cancer screenings. They also were 17% less likely to be screened for breast cancer and 14% less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer. 

"The complexity and time taken to manage diabetes could mean routine preventive services such as cancer screening may be forgotten or neglected by both patients and providers," researcher Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe, an endocrinologist at Women's College Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, told Reuters Health.

"We know the more chronic diseases a person has, the less likely they are to see their primary care providers," Lipscombe added, "but the latter must stay part of the team."

The U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has emphasized the importance of cancer screening in the diabetic population. A 2016 study examined links between diabetes status and colorectal cancer screening. In this study, individuals with diabetes were 22% more likely to be up-to-date with colorectal cancer screenings than those without the disease.

Why do these screenings matter? According to the American Diabetes Association, type 2 diabetes shares some risk factors with certain types of cancers including those of the colon, breast, uterus and pancreas. Early cancer screening can mean a better prognosis for both people with diabetes and those without the disease.

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