- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Most people have heard of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but researchers say a rare third classification — Type 3c — is often incorrectly diagnosed as Type 2.

Type 3c diabetes, which occurs after a trauma to the pancreas, requires a stronger medical intervention than Type 2 — making a misdiagnosis particularly dangerous.

Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough of the hormone insulin to help cells absorb blood sugar for energy. High blood sugar levels can damage the eyes, heart, kidneys and nerves.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that tends to occur in early childhood. Fatigue, blurred vision, increased hunger and thirst, a weakened immune system and unexplained weight loss are some of the health problems that can result from Type 1.

Type 2 occurs most frequently in adults, especially in those who are overweight, rarely exercise, are at least 45 years old and have a family history of diabetes, among other risk factors.

Type 3c occurs after the pancreas undergoes trauma or damage, such as a disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis or an inflammation known as pancreatitis, which causes severe abdominal pain. Researchers estimate it occurs in 5 percent to 10 percent of the West’s population that has diabetes.

About 30.3 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and 90 percent to 95 percent of them are diagnosed with the Type 2 version, according to the CDC. About 7.2 million people have the disease but haven’t been diagnosed, the health agency estimates.

In a study published in the November issue of the medical journal Diabetes Care, researchers at the University of Surrey in England examined 31,000 medical records for patients with adult-onset diabetes and filtered out those who had been diagnosed after experiencing damage to the pancreas.

They found 559 cases of adult onset diabetes following pancreas trauma, of which the majority (87.8 percent) were diagnosed as having the Type 2 version of the disease. Fewer than 3 percent were diagnosed as having exocrine diabetes, or Type 3c, the researchers wrote.

“Researchers and specialist doctors have recently become concerned that Type 3c diabetes might be much more common than previously thought and that many cases are not being correctly identified,” Andrew McGovern, a clinical researcher at the University of Surrey and a corresponding author on the study, wrote in an article for the online medical magazine The Conversation.

“People with Type 3c diabetes were twice as likely to have poor blood sugar control than those with Type 2 diabetes. They were also five to ten times more likely to need insulin, depending on their type of pancreas disease,” Mr. McGovern wrote, noting that Type 3c also can appear nearly 10 years after the initial trauma to the pancreas.

“Our findings highlight the urgent need for improved recognition and diagnosis of this surprisingly common type of diabetes,” he concluded.

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