In 2013, the medical journal Diabetes published the results of a study that showed signs of pre-cancerous cell growth in people taking DPP-4 inhibitors, the class of drug to which Onglyza belongs. DPP-4 inhibitors help the pancreas increase insulin production, which is needed to properly control blood sugar levels. They also reduce the amount of sugar the liver produces.
The DPP-4 medications, according to researchers, increased the production and size of beta cells that are responsible for producing insulin in the pancreas. However, these newly produced beta cells were abnormal. In addition, they found the formation of adenomas, small tumors that can become malignant in some cases. These abnormalities were only found in people who took DPP-4 inhibitors such as Onglyza, and not in subjects who took other diabetic medications.
Pancreatic Cancer – Diagnosis and Treatment
Like many other forms of disease, pancreatic cancer is much more difficult to treat if it is not detected at an earlier stage. There are two main types of pancreatic cancer – exocrine and endocrine. Exocrine cancer tumors develop in the ducts that transport juices produced by the pancreas that aid in digestion. Endocrine pancreatic cancer typically starts in the cells that produce insulin. The National Cancer Institute estimated in 2013 that more than 38,000 Americans would die from the disease that year alone.
Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to diagnose in the beginning stages because it often produces symptoms that can be mistaken for other types of health problems, such as back and abdomen pain, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and yellowing of the eyes and skin. If a doctor believes there is a chance a patient is developing pancreatic cancer, then several different kinds of imaging tests may be performed, such as a biopsy or a blood test.
Treatment options for the disease often include a mix of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery. A common type of pancreatic cancer surgery is known as the Whipple procedure. This involves taking out a tumor in the head of the pancreas. In some instances, however, the entire pancreas has to be removed, along with the gallbladder and a portion of the stomach. If you have taken Onglyza and are in pain, speak with your health care professional about your concerns. Pancreatic cancer, or even the potential for pancreatic cancer, is not something to wait to investigate.