The Negative Correlation Between Diabetes Mellitus and Acute Leukemia in Adults: Results of a Large Retrospective Study Performed at Two Major Tertiary Care Centers in Saudi Arabia

Issue: Vol.8, No.1 - January 2009

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Article Type: Manuscript

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  1. Dr Khalid Ahmed Al-Anazi
    Associate Consultant, Section of Adult Hematology and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant,rnKing Faisal Cancer Centre, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre
  2. AM Al-Jasser
  3. DAP Evans
  4. T Shafi
  5. MD Aljurf
  6. FI Al-Mohareb
  7. E Sahovic
  8. H Al-Omar
  9. HA Al-Zahrani
  10. NA Chaudhri
  11. Al-Sharif NZ

Background: Despite the worldwide dramatic increase in the prevalence of diabetes mellitus, the association between this disease and acute leukemia has not been well explored.

Methods and Materials: A retrospective study of diabetes mellitus in patients with acute leukemia was conducted at Riyadh Armed Forces Hospital between January 1991 and December 2002 and then the study was continued at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh between January 2004 and December 2006.

Results: Out of 408 adults with acute leukemia treated at both institutions, only 7 patients had diabetes mellitus at the presentation of leukemia. The incidence of diabetes in adults with acute leukemia in the Saudi population was 1.72% which was extremely low in comparison with that of diabetes in adult Saudis. All the study patients had type 2 diabetes and were mostly obese or overweight. Compared to the control group of patients, the study patients developed leukemia at an older age with acute myeloid leukemia being the predominant type encountered. The study group also had higher rates of infectious complications, mortality and extra medullary disease, but a lower relapse rate. Interestingly, both groups of patients had similar rates of chromosomal abnormalities.

Conclusions: The study showed a clear negative association between diabetes mellitus and acute leukemia in the adult Saudi population. A possible explanation of this finding is that adult patients with diabetes may have genes that have protective effects against the development of acute leukemia.

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