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Cancer and Diabetes

Daffodil Month, held every April, is a national fundraising campaign of the Canadian Cancer Society. This campaign is to raise awareness and to raise money to help fund cancer research.

 

Steroid-Induced Diabetes

Chemotherapy is a common treatment for people with cancer. Steroids are often given with chemotherapy to lessen nausea and decrease inflammation, but they do raise blood sugar levels. Steroid-Induced Diabetes can be diagnosed if blood sugar levels are elevated. Symptoms of having Steroid-Induced Diabetes can be similar to uncontrolled type 1 or type 2 diabetes:

 
  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss despite an increase in appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme weakness and fatigue
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Frequent bladder and skin infections that don't heal easily
  • High levels of sugar in the blood when tested
  • High levels of sugar in the urine when tested
  • Dry, itchy skin
Treatment for Steroid-Induced Diabetes includes diabetes education; dietary management, glucose monitoring and medication as prescribed. A referral to a diabetes education program and an endocrinologist for consult is recommended. In people who did not have problems previously, blood sugar levels usually return to normal after treatment with steroids.

Pre-Existing Diabetes and Cancer

People with pre-existing diabetes that are now being treated for cancer, may have difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels. Diabetes treatments often need to be adjusted to help get blood sugar levels under control. For those with type 2 diabetes, insulin is often used, and is usually started around the time that steroids are given. Other aspects of treatment include diabetes education and a referral to an endocrinologist for consult.

 

Although diabetes is not usually the primary concern for those dealing with cancer, the goal is to keep blood sugar levels within a reasonable range to prevent symptoms of high blood sugar levels, to prevent delays in cancer treatment and reduce risks of infection during treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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