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What are the main Causes of Pancreatic Cancer

Carcinoma of the pancreas is the 13th most common cancer worldwide and the eighth most frequent cause of death from cancer. It is among the tumors with worst survival rates being the mortality to incidence ratio of 98 %. The incidence of pancreatic cancer in India is 0.5-2.4 per 100,000 men and 0.2-1.8 per 100,000 women.

Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer:

The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are unknown in most of the cases though studies have shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer

  • Acquired Risk Factors: They are cigarette smoking, environmental tobacco smoke, obesity, Chronic pancreatitis, pylori infection and factors related to dietary habits (BMI, red meat intake, low fruit and vegetable intake, diabetes, alcohol intake).
  • Age: Age is one of the strongest risk factors for pancreatic cancer. The risk is approximately 20 times higher for individuals older than 50 years as compared to younger persons. As for other cancers, less than 10 % of cases of pancreatic cancer occur among individuals younger than 55 years old, and the median age of diagnosis is 71 years. In all groups, men have higher incidence rates than women.
  • Genetic causes: A family history of pancreatic cancer in a first-degree relative is associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, with relative risk 2.5 and 5.3 times. The risk increases as more relatives are affected. The increased risk in family members could be owing to genetic factors and/or lifestyle habits that may be common in different members or generations, such as smoking. Genetic predisposition is regarded as one of the major risk factors for the development of pancreatic cancer. The development of pancreatic cancer may be associated with inherited mutations in specific genes.
  • Inherited Germline Mutations: They are seen in <10%  of cases (BRCA2, p16, ATM, STK11, PRSS1/PRSS2, SPINK1, PALB2, and  DNA mismatch repair genes).Other familial syndromes associated with pancreatic cancer are Hereditary Pancreatitis, Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer, Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancers, Peutz–Jeghers Syndrome, Ataxia Telangiectasia, Familial Atypical Multiple Mole Melanoma Syndrome And Li–Fraumeni Syndrome.