Linking type 2 diabetes and gynecological cancer: an introductory overview

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Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a chronic disease with a growing prevalence and a leading cause of death in many countries. Several epidemiological studies observed an association between T2D and increased risk of many types of cancer, such as gynecologic neoplasms (endometrial, cervical, ovarian and vulvar cancer). Insulin resistance, chronic inflammation and high free ovarian steroid hormones are considered the possible mechanisms behind this complex relationship. A higher risk of endometrial cancer was observed in T2D, even though this association largely attenuated after adjusting for obesity. A clear relationship between the incidence of cervical cancer (CC) and T2D has still not be determined; however T2D might have an impact on prognosis in patients with CC. To date, studies on the association between T2D and ovarian cancer (OC) are limited. The effect of pre-existing diabetes on cancer-specific mortality has been evaluated in several studies, with less clear results. Other epidemiological and experimental studies focused on the potential role of diabetes medications, mainly metformin, in cancer development in women. The correct understanding of the link between T2D and gynecologic cancer risk and mortality is currently imperative to possibly modify screening and diagnostic-therapeutic protocols in the future.

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