Introduction: The incidence of pancreatic cancer worldwide appears to correlate with increasing age, and it is slightly more common among men and Jewish people. There is evidence that the incidence rate is higher among blacks than among whites.
Methods: The published literature was reviewed for preparation of an overview on epidemiology of pancreatic cancer.
Results: A possible role of diabetes in the etiology of pancreatic cancer has been suggested by different epidemiological studies. Several investigations indicate that a history of pancreatitis may increase the risk of pancreas cancer, and it appears that people with a history of pernicious anemia or partial gastrectomy for ulcer as well as cholecystectomy may be at higher risk. Individuals with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) also have a high risk of developing this cancer. Pancreatic cancer is seen in some breast cancer families with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Epidemiological studies have confirmed that relatives of individuals with pancreatic cancer have an increased risk of this malignancy. Affected family members of the familial atypical multiple-mole melanoma (FAMMM) as well as those with a positive family history of ataxia-telangiectasia (AT) have much higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer, compared with the general population. A positive association has been reported between pancreatic cancer risk and dietary intake such as fat and oil, meat, and dairy products, as well as with high intake of energy, fried foods, carbohydrates, cholesterol, and salt. The risk is found to decrease with increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber, natural foods, and Vitamin C. Cigarette smoking has shown the strongest positive association with risk of pancreatic cancer.
Conclusion: Some diseases and medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, AP, family aggregation of pancreatic cancer, FAMMM, AT, as well as nutrition and lifestyle factors, like smoking may play important role in the etiology of pancreatic cancer.