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Fox Chase Cancer Center Researchers Find No Effects of Type II Diabetes on Aggressiveness of Prostate Cancer; However, Long-Term Overall Survival is Worse

DENVER -- Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center found no effects of type II diabetes on aggressiveness of prostate cancer but found that long-term survival is worse. The findings were presented today at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Denver, Colo.

Previous research suggests that insulin may spur the growth of prostate cancer cells. In type II diabetes, the body fails to properly use insulin, which can lead to an excessive amount of insulin in the blood.

"We looked at several key pretreatment factors used to stage the prostate cancer," explained Khanh H. Nguyen, M.D., lead author of the Fox Chase study and a resident in the radiation oncology department at Fox Chase. "These factors include the initial PSA, Gleason score and T-stage. The men with type II diabetes didn't have a significantly different initial profile for their prostate cancer than the men without diabetes. Additionally, type II diabetes did not appear to influence the rates of PSA failures or distant metastases. However, men with type II diabetes had significantly worse long-term overall survival."

The patient cohort for this study included 1,512 men with localized prostate cancer treated with radiation therapy between April 1989 and October 2001. Of these, 1,306 men had no history of type II diabetes (NDM) while 206 men had diabetes (DM-II), which was managed with diet, exercise or medications other than insulin.

The study did not detect significant differences in the initial PSA, Gleason score, or T-stage between the men with and without diabetes. The median initial PSA for men with NDM was 8.2 compared to 8.7 for men with DM-II. Twenty-eight percent of NDM cases versus 26 percent of those with DM-II had a Gleason score of 7-10. By T-stage, 94 percent of NDM patients and 93 percent of DM-II patients had stage T1a-2c disease.

The researchers also looked at the effect of DM-II on long-term radiation treatment outcomes. At 5 years, 27.2 percent (355) of men with NDM had PSA failures versus 23.8 percent (49) of men with DM-II. Seven percent (92) of NDM patients had distant metastases compared to 4.9 percent (10) with DM-II. Of the patients with NDM, 3.1 percent (41) died of prostate cancer versus 2.4 percent (5) of patient with DM-II.

"Although men with type II diabetes did not have significantly different treatment outcomes, having the disease had a detrimental effect on overall survival," said Nguyen.

Of the men without diabetes, 19.1 percent (250) died from all causes, compared to 22.8 percent (47) deaths overall for those with DM-II. This result was statistically significant even after adjusting for the key pretreatment factors.

Nguyen, now a radiation oncologist at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, Tenn., concluded, "The degree of hyperinsulinemia in type II diabetes can vary considerably and may obscure the true impact of insulin on the natural history of prostate cancer. Despite laboratory and epidemiological data suggesting an effect of insulin on prostate cancer growth, in our patient cohort, diabetes did not appear to influence the aggressiveness of prostate cancer at presentation.

"However, type II diabetes conferred a significantly higher overall mortality. Aggressive management of diabetes with diet, exercise, and medications may improve the survival of cancer patients."


Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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