We do not know the exact causes of pancreatic cancer.
These are some of the risk factors for this cancer. Not all of these risk factors may cause this cancer, but they may help the cancer start growing.
- This cancer occurs mostly in people between the ages of 60 and 80 years.
- Black people and people with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage are more vulnerable to pancreatic cancer.
- Smoking tobacco may contribute to 20 - 30% (20-30 out of 100) of pancreatic cancers.
- Eating a high-fat diet.
- Being obese.
- Having diabetes. Pancreatic cancer can also cause diabetes.
- Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), cirrhosis, and prior removal of your gallbladder (cholecystectomy).
- Researchers have studied if drinking alcohol, drinking coffee and having acute pancreatitis may cause pancreatic cancer. No clear link has been found.
About 5 - 10% (5 - 10 out of 100) of cases of pancreatic cancer may be hereditary. For more information:
Hereditary Cancer Program
Pancreatic cancer makes up about 2% (2 out of 100) of all cancers.
Note: Available statistics do not have information about the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse participants. It is unknown how these statistics apply to transgender and gender diverse people. Patients are advised to speak with their primary care provider or specialists about their individual considerations and recommendations.
Here are some things you can do to lower your risk of pancreatic cancer:
Do not smoke: If you smoke, stop. Also, try to avoid breathing in cigarette smoke. Even if you have been using tobacco for many years, quitting will lower your cancer risk. Support is available to help you successfully quit.
Eat healthy, nutritious foods and stay active
There is no screening program for this cancer.
Some people may be at a higher risk for pancreatic cancer and may need certain tests. These people can include:
- Close relatives of people with pancreatic cancer.
- Carriers of BRCA2 gene mutation.
- People with p16 mutation.
- People who have
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PDF)
- People with Lynch Syndrome or a close family member with Lynch Syndrome.
Talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner if you think you are at a higher risk for pancreatic cancer.