Risk factors for pancreatic cancer

Any person with an average risk of pancreatic cancer may have a one percent chance of developing the disease. Almost 90% of cancers that originate from the pancreas develop sporadically. In some cases, genetic mutations may lead to cancer. In general, there is no known cause of pancreatic cancer. Less than 10% of pancreatic cancers are genetically inherited.

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer

Family history

Pancreatic cancers run in families are linked to genes (genetic conditions) – familial pancreatic cancers. The risk increases manifold with the diagnosis of cancer in first-degree relatives (parents, children, siblings)

Genetically Inherited diseases

A person with a family history of specific uncommon inherited diseases is at increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Such conditions may include Lynch syndrome, hereditary breast and ovarian (HBOC) syndrome, hereditary pancreatitis (HP), familial pancreatic cancer, and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS). People with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and LiFraumeni syndrome (LFS) are very rare inherited conditions that may also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Liver Cirrhosis

scarring of the liver is a disease that results from excessive alcohol consumption and also due to viral infections (hepatitis C and hepatitis B). Liver cirrhosis most commonly leads to liver cancer, but can also lead to pancreatic cancer.

Hepatitis B infection can also lead to pancreatic cancer.

Helicobacter Pylori (Bacterium)

This bacterium is a common cause of stomach ulcers and inflammation of the stomach. H. pylori infection can increase the risk of the stomach as well as pancreatic cancer – though the risk of developing stomach cancer is very high.

Exposure to Chemicals

Environmental chemicals such as some solvents, dyes, benzene compounds, pesticides, and petrochemicals may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Painful chronic pancreatitis may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.


When a person is diagnosed with diabetes and has had it for many years, then – according to several studies – the risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases. However, not all people with new-onset diabetes or detection of diabetes in adulthood will develop pancreatic cancer.

Obesity and Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption, a high-fat diet, and obesity are linked to a higher risk of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Repeated or recurrent pancreatitis causes repeated inflammation of the pancreas due to heavy alcohol use. Which in turn increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. According to several research studies, people who are obese and overweight have a very high risk of developing and dying from pancreatic cancer. Among the above risk factors for pancreatic cancer, a majority are modifiable ones as they can be changed with some lifestyle changes

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