(HealthDay News) — People with diabetes are less likely to take their diabetes medications if they’ve been diagnosed with cancer, researchers report. The findings were published online Jan. 28 in Diabetologia.
The new study included 16,172 diabetes patients, average age 68, taking drugs to lower blood glucose. Of those patients, 3,281 were diagnosed with cancer. To determine the impact, the researchers analyzed the patients’ medication possession ratio (MPR), which represents the amount of medication patients had in their possession over a certain period of time.
A 10 percent decline in MPR translated into three days a month where patients did not take their diabetes medications. At the time of cancer diagnosis, there was an overall 6.3 percent drop in MPR, followed by a 0.20 percent monthly decline following a cancer diagnosis. The researchers also found that MPR rose 2.1 percent after a prostate cancer diagnosis and fell only 0.5 percent after a breast cancer diagnosis. Large drops in MPR occurred among patients with liver (35.3 percent), esophageal (19.2 percent), lung (15.2 percent), stomach, and pancreatic cancers, as well as those with late-stage cancer (10.7 percent). For each extra month after cancer diagnosis, the largest declines in MPR were seen in patients with pancreatic cancer (0.97 percent) and in those with late-stage cancer (0.64 percent).
“Although the impact of cancer was more pronounced among cancers with a worse prognosis and among those with more advanced tumor, node, metastasis stages, the difference in prognosis associated with these cancers seemed to only partly explain the impact of cancer on medication adherence,” the authors write. “In future studies, the reason for the decline in MPR needs to be further elucidated among the different cancer types — is it the patient who prioritizes the fight against cancer or the advice of the physician to stop the treatment?”