Screening for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) in populations at high risk is recommended. Individuals with new-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus (NOD) are the largest high-risk group for PDAC. To facilitate screening, we sought biomarkers capable of stratifying NOD subjects into those with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and those with the less prevalent PDAC-related diabetes (PDAC-DM), a form of type 3c DM commonly misdiagnosed as T2DM. Using mass spectrometry- and immunoassay-based methodologies in a multi-stage analysis of independent sample sets (n=443 samples), blood levels of 264 proteins were considered using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis, literature review and targeted training and validation. Of 30 candidate biomarkers evaluated in up to four independent patient sets, 12 showed statistically significant differences in levels between PDAC-DM and T2DM. The combination of adiponectin and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) showed strong diagnostic potential, (AUC of 0.91; 95% CI: 0.84-0.99) for the distinction of T3cDM from T2DM. Adiponectin and IL-1Ra warrant further consideration for use in screening for PDAC in individuals newly-diagnosed with T2DM. North West Cancer Research, UK, Cancer Research UK, Pancreatic Cancer Action, UK. Crown Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.