Epidemiologic and etiologic factors of pancreatic cancer

Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2002 Feb;16(1):1-16. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8588(01)00003-x.


Ranking fourth as a cause of death from cancer for men and women in the United States, pancreatic cancer represents a significant challenge for physicians and surgeons. In addition to the elderly, high-risk groups include blacks, men, smokers, and patients with certain preexisting diseases such as pancreatitis and long-standing diabetes. Various inherited genetic disorders cause approximately 5% to 10% of the total cases of pancreatic cancer. Smoking doubles the risk of pancreatic cancer. Control of smoking offers the best available strategy for reducing the incidence of this disease. Dietary measures to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer include maintenance of normal body weight and consumption of a well balanced diet with adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. Chronic pancreatitis caused by heavy alcohol consumption or, rarely, by an underlying inherited disorder is another strong risk factor, but because this benign disease is uncommon, elimination of this underlying cause would have minimal impact on the frequency of pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology
  • Helicobacter pylori / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Pancreatitis / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • United States / epidemiology