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Medical Management of Another Condition May Not Lead to Early Cancer Diagnosis

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- Being in regular contact with health care
providers because of a chronic illness such as diabetes or
heart disease doesn't necessarily mean a person is more likely
to have a cancer detected early, according to a study led by
Duke
University Comprehensive Cancer Center
researchers.

"We speculated that patients who were being medically
managed for conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes
might be diagnosed sooner since they interact with the health
care system so often," said Yousuf Zafar, a fellow in
hematology-oncology at Duke and lead investigator on the study.
"But it turns out that was not the case."

Zafar will present the results of the study in a poster
presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology
annual meeting in Chicago on Saturday, June 2. The study was
funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Pfizer
Oncology.

These results have implications for how people with
co-morbidities at the time of cancer diagnosis might be
treated, Zafar said.

"Currently, patients with multiple co-morbidities don't have
access to the same types of clinical trials that are open to
other patients," Zafar said.

The researchers expect to investigate ways in which to get
some of these co-morbidity patients into cancer clinical
trials, which can offer new treatment options that might
produce better results, Zafar said.

Zafar said an important takeaway message is that screening
is important, whether or not you are seeing a doctor
frequently.

"It is always important to get age-appropriate cancer
screening," Zafar said.

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