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Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2011 Jul 13;3(1):15. doi: 10.1186/1758-5996-3-15.

Cancer incidence in type 2 diabetes patients - first results from a feasibility study of the D2C cohort.

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Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine; Westphalian Wilhelms University, Domagk Str, 3, 48129 Münster, Germany.



A large prospective study in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D), the German D2C cohort, is presently being enumerated to investigate risk factors of incident cancer in diabetic patients.


A disease management program was offered, on a voluntary basis, to all T2D patients who were members of a statutory health insurance fund in Germany. This first feasibility report uses data from 26.742 T2D patients, who were 40 to 79 years old, resided in the Muenster District, and who were enrolled between June 2003 and July 2008. Cancer cases were identified through the regional Cancer Registry.


Invasive cancer cases were identified using probabilistic record linkage procedures and pseudonymised personal identifiers. Censoring date was December 31, 2008. We included only first cancers, leaving 12.650 male and 14.092 female T2D with a total of 88.778 person-years (py). We computed standardised incidence ratios (SIR) for external comparisons and we employed Cox regression models and hazard ratios (HR) within the cohort.


We identified 759 first cancers among male T2D patients (18.7 per 1,000 py) and 605 among females (12.7 per 1,000 py). The risk of any incident cancer in T2D was raised (SIR = 1.14; 95% confidence interval [1.10 - 1.21]), in particular for cancer of the liver (SIR = 1.94 [1.15 - 2.94]) and pancreas (SIR = 1.45 [1.07-1.92]). SIRs decreased markedly with time after T2D diagnosis. In Cox models, adjusting for diabetes duration, body mass index and sex, insulin therapy was related to higher cancer risk (HR = 1.25 [1.17 - 1.33]). No effect was seen for metformin.


Our study demonstrates feasibility of record linkage between DMP and cancer registries. These first cohort results confirm previous reports. It is envisaged to enhance this cohort by inclusion of further regions of the state, expansion of the follow-up times, and collection of a more detailed medication history.

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