Pancreatic cancer symptoms may only appear when the condition is already advanced, making the condition harder to treat.
Currently, this cancer is the UK’s fifth biggest cancer killer, for which survival rates have not improved since 1970.
According to the Office for National Statistics, less than seven per cent of people diagnosed with the condition are expected to live for five years.
People with type 2 diabetes are at twice the risk of developing the condition, although this still represents just two per cent of people with the condition.
You can reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer, whether you do or do not have type 2 diabetes, by maintaining a healthy weight.
“We can say quite clearly that when people lose a substantial amount of weight the risk of cancer goes down substantially,” said Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University, who has previously led research into treating type 2 diabetes.
The same can be said for type 2 diabetics, who are at an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer due to their condition.
“It is the case that for people with type 2 diabetes, pancreatic cancer is much commoner,” said Professor Taylor.
“However, add to that the factor that type 2 diabetics levels of insulin are higher than for overweight people, and their chance of developing pancreatic cancer is more likely.”
Although a cause and effect relationship hasn’t been established, the hormone insulin is involved in both regulating blood sugar levels and helping cells maintain themselves. In diabetics its level is much higher, which can encourage cancer growth, putting type 2 diabetics at greater risk.
However, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer if you have diabetes is still low. Just two per cent of people with type 2 diabetes are likely to develop it.
You can reduce your risk even further by getting your diabetes under control, and taking up a healthy lifestyle.
“What’s important is that people affected by diabetes don’t panic,” said Cancer Research UK on their website.
“Someone who has diabetes won’t necessarily also develop pancreatic cancer.”
Dianne Dobson, an advice nurse at Pancreatic Cancer UK said, “You’ll often find pancreatic cancer patients are not overweight at all.
“But at the same time have developed pancreatic cancer.
“We just don’t know why that is,” she said.
She advised that people who have type 2 diabetes and become unstable should speak with their GP immediately.
This could be an early warning sign of the cancer, as the tumour begins to disrupt the pancreas.