Challenges and perspectives in the treatment of diabetes associated breast cancer

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Type 2 diabetes mellitus is one of the most common chronic disease worldwide and affects all cross-sections of the society including children, women, youth and adults. Scientific evidence has linked diabetes to higher incidence, accelerated progression and increased aggressiveness of different cancers. Among the different forms of cancer, research has reinforced a link between diabetes and the risk of breast cancer. Some studies have specifically linked diabetes to the highly aggressive, triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs) which do not respond to conventional hormonal/HER2 targeted interventions, have chances of early recurrence, metastasize, tend to be more invasive in nature and develop drug resistance. Commonly used anti-diabetic drugs, such as metformin, have recently gained importance in the treatment of breast cancer due to their proposed anti-cancer properties. Here we discuss the link between diabetes and breast cancer, the metabolic disturbances in diabetes that support the development of breast cancer, the challenges involved and future perspective and directions. We link the three main metabolic disturbances (dyslipidemia, hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia) that occur in diabetes to potential aberrant molecular pathways that may lead to the development of an oncogenic phenotype of the breast tissue, thereby leading to acceleration of cell growth, proliferation, migration, inflammation, angiogenesis, EMT and metastasis and inhibition of apoptosis in breast cancer cells. Furthermore, managing diabetes and treating cancer using a combination of anti-diabetic and classical anti-cancer drugs should prove to be more efficient in the treatment diabetes associated cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-111
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Treatment Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018



  • Anti-diabetic drugs in cancer therapy
  • Breast cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hyperinsulinemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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