I am an endocrinologist with more than two decades of experience in caring for people with diabetes. Since joining the faculty at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in 2003, I have brought this expertise to the treatment of people who are simultaneously fighting cancer.
Diabetes is common among cancer patients for a number of reasons. As this metabolic condition becomes more common in the general population, increasing numbers of people have preexisting diabetes when they are diagnosed with cancer. Another reason is that some drugs commonly used to lessen the side effects of chemotherapy — as well as certain chemotherapy drugs themselves (particularly some of the newer ones) — can cause or worsen diabetes. When treating people with diabetes and cancer, blood-sugar control is vital because high blood-sugar levels increase the risk of infection — a major health risk to people fighting cancer.