Risk factors of Pancreatic Cancer.- Dixit Health Learning

Risk factors of Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells caused by multiple changes in gene expression leading to a dysregulated balance of cell proliferation and cell death with uncontrolled cell proliferation and non-stop clonal expansion of cells, and ultimately evolving into a population of cells that can invade tissues. Pancreatic cancer is one of the types of cancer. It is important to know about Risk factors of Pancreatic Cancer.

In this article, you will learn

  • What is Pancreatic Cancer
  • Types of Pancreatic Cancer
  • Risk Factors of Pancreatic Cancer

What is Pancreatic Cancer

When cancer occurs in Pancreas called Pancreatic Cancer. It means malignant cells form in the tissues of Pancreas. The pancreas is a gland which is located in the stomach and in front of the spine. The Pancreas is responsible for the secretion of hormone and juice that regulate Blood Sugar.

Pancreatic Carcinoma or Pancreatic Cancer may arise either from the ductal cells, acinar cells, or islet cells. Carcinoma of the pancreas usually refers to neoplasms arising from the exocrine pancreas, whereas neoplasm arising from the endocrine pancreas are collectively termed “neuroendocrine tumors or islet cell tumors”.

Types of Pancreatic Carcinoma

Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma

The most common malignant neoplasm of the pancreas is ductal adenocarcinoma. It accounts for nearly 90% of all pancreatic tumors.

Ductal Adenocarcinoma is the 5th most common cancer in the United States and the most frequent causes of cancer death.

Other Cancers that might arise from ductal cells are adenosquamous carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and giant cell carcinoma.

Less Common Pancreatic Tumors

Following are the less common pancreatic tumors:

  • Acinar Cell Carcinomas (ACC): As the name suggests, they arise from the exocrine pancreatic acinar cells and thus produce pancreatic enzymes, similar to non-neoplastic acinar cells. Acinar cells carcinoma is solid cellular tumors with nest and small glands composed of relatively uniform cells resembling normal acinar cells. They are less malignant tumors compared to ductal adenocarcinoma and thus have a better prognosis.
  • Pancreatic Endocrine Neoplasm: They are uncommon but not rare, constituting 2%-5% of pancreatic cancer. Traditionally designated “islet cells tumors” they may occur at any age but more common the middle or older adults.
  • Cystic Tumors of the Pancreas: These are being recognized more frequently with the increasing use of imaging tests such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans.

Risk Factors of Pancreatic Cancer

These incidences of pancreatic cancer vary greatly on the basis of certain risk factors which play a significant role in susceptibility to its development. Many putative risk factors of Pancreatic Cancer have been identified which include Smoking, Metabolic factors ( Diabetes Mellitus, Obesity), nutritional factors ( high consumptions of meat and low consumption of vegetables), hereditary factors, and chronic pancreatitis.


Pancreatic cancer is predominantly a disease of older individuals. Pancreatic cancer is rare in the first 3 decades of life. After the age of 30, however, the incidence rate increase exponentially and peak in the 7th and 8th decades of life.

In the US, only 13% of all patients are diagnosed before 60 years of age and nearly half of the patients are >= 75 years old at the time of diagnosis.


Men consistently have higher incidence and mortality rates than women throughout the world. In India, males are 1.5 to 2 times more affected than female. Gender-specific hormonal risk factors might have a causal role in susceptibility to the disease.


The race also plays a role since noticeable differences in the occurrence of pancreatic cancer exist between races, with rates in the black population being appreciably higher than in white people, and rates are the lowest in some Asian populations.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis is characterized by progressive inflammatory destruction of the functional parenchyma of the pancreas resulting in severe exocrine and endocrine insufficiency

Diabetes Mellitus 

The association between diabetes and pancreatic cancer has long been recognized. Longstanding diabetes has been shown to be a definite risk factor for the development of Pancreatic cancer. Studies have shown that patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus have an increased risk of pancreatic cancer among those with long term diabetes of >=10 years.

Antidiabetic Drugs and Risk Factors of Pancreatic Cancer

Emerging data from basic and epidemiological studies suggest that insulin therapy may add to the risk of pancreatic cancer.


A high caloric intake, obesity, or both are risk factors of pancreatic cancer.

Dietary Factors

There is an increased risk of pancreatic cancer associated with high consumption of meat (especially grilled), cholesterol, fried foods, and other foods containing nitrosamines. Similarly, an increased pancreatic cancer risk with high consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks has been shown.

On the other hand, high consumption of citrus fruits and some flavonoids, which are naturally occurring antioxidant widely distributed in the plant, has been associated with a modest reduction in pancreatic cancer risk.

Genetic Risk Factors

The genetic risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer can be divided into 3 groups:

  • Defined genetic syndrome associated with pancreatic cancer.
  • Familial clusters of pancreatic cancer with no obvious genetic syndrome.
  • Pancreatic cancer in the first degree relatives of patients with non-pancreatic cancer.

Family History and Cancer Syndromes

There is nearly a 2 fold increase in pancreatic cancer risk associated with a family history of the diseases. Familial cancer syndromes characterized by an excess of several forms of cancer, including that of the pancreas, familial pancreatic cancer, cystic fibrosis, breast cancer, and Fanconi anemia.

In addition to that inherited gene mutations, some acquired (somatic) mutations in specific genes are responsible for pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Carcinogenesis and Genetic Mutations

The carcinogenesis process might involve sequential development of metaplasia/hyperplasia, dysplasia, and finally carcinoma.

I hope this article will give you complete information about pancreatic cancer, types of pancreatic cancer, and risk factors of Pancreatic Cancer.

Your feedback is always welcome.

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