Inequalities in cancer mortality trends in people with type 2 diabetes: 20 year population-based study in England


The aim of this study was to describe the long-term trends in cancer mortality rates in people with type 2 diabetes based on subgroups defined by sociodemographic characteristics and risk factors.


We defined a cohort of individuals aged ≥35 years who had newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink between 1 January 1998 and 30 November 2018. We assessed trends in all-cause, all-cancer and cancer-specific mortality rates by age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, obesity and smoking status. We used Poisson regression to calculate age- and calendar year-specific mortality rates and Joinpoint regression to assess trends for each outcome. We estimated standardised mortality ratios comparing mortality rates in people with type 2 diabetes with those in the general population.


Among 137,804 individuals, during a median follow-up of 8.4 years, all-cause mortality rates decreased at all ages between 1998 and 2018; cancer mortality rates also decreased for 55- and 65-year-olds but increased for 75- and 85-year-olds, with average annual percentage changes (AAPCs) of –1.4% (95% CI –1.5, –1.3), –0.2% (–0.3, –0.1), 1.2% (0.8, 1.6) and 1.6% (1.5, 1.7), respectively. Higher AAPCs were observed in women than men (1.5% vs 0.5%), in the least deprived than the most deprived (1.5% vs 1.0%) and in people with morbid obesity than those with normal body weight (5.8% vs 0.7%), although all these stratified subgroups showed upward trends in cancer mortality rates. Increasing cancer mortality rates were also observed in people of White ethnicity and former/current smokers, but downward trends were observed in other ethnic groups and non-smokers. These results have led to persistent inequalities by gender and deprivation but widening disparities by smoking status. Constant upward trends in mortality rates were also observed for pancreatic, liver and lung cancer at all ages, colorectal cancer at most ages, breast cancer at younger ages, and prostate and endometrial cancer at older ages. Compared with the general population, people with type 2 diabetes had a more than 1.5-fold increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic, liver and endometrial cancer mortality during the whole study period.


In contrast to the declines in all-cause mortality rates at all ages, the cancer burden has increased in older people with type 2 diabetes, especially for colorectal, pancreatic, liver and endometrial cancer. Tailored cancer prevention and early detection strategies are needed to address persistent inequalities in the older population, the most deprived and smokers.

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