Factors that increase risk
- Age. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases as people age. Almost all patients are older than 45. About two-thirds are at least 65 years old. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 71 years old.
- Gender. Men are about 30 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women.
- Race. African Americans are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than other racial groups.
- Medical conditions. Risk for pancreatic cancer can be increased in people who have diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver and other stomach problems.
- Being overweight. Being overweight is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Very overweight (obese) people are about 20 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
- Workplace exposure to certain chemicals. Heavy exposure at work to certain pesticides, dyes, and chemicals used in metal refining may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Factors that decrease risk
- Quitting smoking. Studies show that smoking is linked with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Stopping smoking or never smoking decreases the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Inherited pancreatic cancer clues
About 10 percent of pancreatic cancer patients have a first degree relative with pancreatic cancer. Many of which appear as part of rare cancer syndromes like:
- Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome
- Familial melanoma
- Familial pancreatitis
- Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), also known as Lynch syndrome
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS)
- Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome