Diabetes, diabetes treatment and breast cancer prognosis

Juhua Luo, Beth Virnig, Michael Hendryx, Sijin Wen, Rowan Chelebowski, Chu Chen, Tomas Rohan, Lesley Tinker, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Lawrence Lessin, Karen Margolis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study are to assess the impact of pre-existing diabetes and diabetes treatment on breast cancer prognosis. 8,108 women with centrally confirmed invasive breast cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative diagnosed between 1998 and 2013 were followed through the date of death or September 20, 2013. Information on diabetes and diabetes therapy were obtained via self-report and face-to-face review of current medication containers, respectively. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to estimate adjusted relative hazard ratios for overall mortality. The proportional subdistribution hazard model was used to estimate hazard ratios for breast cancer-specific mortality. Compared with women without diabetes, women with diabetes had significantly increased risk of overall mortality (HR 1.26 95 % CI 1.06–1.48), especially among those who took insulin or had longer duration of diabetes. However, diabetes was not associated with increased risk of breast cancer-specific mortality, regardless of type of treatment and duration of diabetes, despite the significant association of diabetes with unfavorable tumor characteristics. Our large prospective cohort study provides additional evidence that pre-existing diabetes increases risk of total mortality among women with breast cancer. The increased total mortality associated with diabetes was mainly driven by increased risk of dying from diseases other than breast cancer. Thus, the continuum of care for breast cancer patients with diabetes should include careful attention to CVD risk factors and other non-cancer conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 14 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R15CA179463. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.’’ The WHI program is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through contracts HHSN268201100046C, HHSN268201100001C, HHSN268201100002C, HHSN268201100003C, HHSN26820110 0004C, and HHSN271201100004C.’’ We also request that you consult www.whi.org for exact wording if you include a description of the WHI trials in your manuscript. A short list of WHI investigators appears in the appendix.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Breast cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Diabetes treatment
  • Prognosis


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