Type 3c diabetes is commonly misdiagnosed as type 2

Most people have heard of type 1 and type 2 diabetes but now concerns are being raised about under-diagnosis of a newly identified form of the condition known as type 3c.


According to researchers from the University of Surrey, the failure of doctors to recognise this form of diabetes is putting clients' health at risk.


Type 3c diabetes occurs as a result of pancreatic disease or injury sometimes many years prior to a diabetes diagnosis, which affects the body's ability to produce insulin. It is also sometimes called "pancreatogenic diabetes" or "diabetes of the exocrine pancreas".


Type 3c diabetes is associated with poor glycaemic control and early insulin therapy.

In type 1 diabetes the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissue in the pancreas preventing the creation of insulin. It always needs insulin treatment.


Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body's cells don't react to insulin correctly.


Patients with this form of diabetes may be treated with diet and medication but may eventually need insulin injections.


In the first ever study of its kind, researchers from the University of Surrey examined the anonymised GP records of more than two million people, looking at the frequency of different types of diabetes and the accuracy of diagnosis.


They discovered that up to 97.3 per cent of people who have previously experienced pancreatic disease are misdiagnosed, typically with type 2 diabetes, rather than the correct condition type 3c.


Researchers also discovered that adults were more likely to develop type 3c diabetes than type 1 diabetes making it more common than previously thought.


The findings have been published in the journal Diabetes Care.


Misdiagnosing type 3c diabetes can have health risks. Patients with type 3c may have a greater need for insulin therapy than those with type 2 diabetes and may also benefit from taking digestive enzymes with food. Delays in getting the correct treatment can result in nerve, eye, and kidney damage.


Douglas Twenefour of Diabetes UK said: "All types of diabetes - including those that develop after other conditions, such as pancreatic disease - are very serious conditions.


"It's essential that all people with diabetes receive the correct diagnosis, so that they have access to the right care and treatment to manage their condition effectively, and reduce their risk of complications."


Speaking to Medscape Medical News, Professor Simon de Lusignan from the University of Surrey said he hopes these latest findings will help GPs to make the correct diagnosis when they are treating a patient with a history of pancreatic disease.


He also sees them as adding another piece to the jigsaw in terms of further understanding of diabetes: "I think, over time, we will see more and more subdivisions of diabetes and this, to me, is a really interesting step on that journey."

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