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October 29, 2002

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Question from Mira Loma, California, USA:

My 10 year old son, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age six, was diagnosed with ALL (childhood leukemia) last year. What, if any, published statistics are available on the percentage of type 1 kids who contract some type of childhood cancer? I am also asking this question of the oncology group we belong to. Any information or resources for information that can be provided will be appreciated.

Answer:

The association of type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes and various forms of cancer has certainly been reported, but as far as I can find out, there are no definitive percentages that have been worked out. You could try exploring PubMed, but I don’t think you will find what you want there.

At the same time, the association is not entirely a random one. Celiac disease, which is another autoimmune condition closely linked to type 1A diabetes in the Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome Type II, has long been recognised to have a link with lymphoma of the bowel. This is one of the reasons for instituting a gluten-free diet in asymptomatic cases. The link to diabetes itself has recently become of special interest because of reports in some people with malignancies and diabetes who have been teated with a bone marrow transplantation there has been actual regeneration of islet cells.

DOB