Risk factors for pancreatic cancer

J Cell Biochem. 2005 Jul 1;95(4):649-56. doi: 10.1002/jcb.20461.


In the United States, the cumulative mortality or lifetime risk of dying from pancreatic cancer is about 1-2%, but although this form of cancer is rare, nearly all patients die from the disease within one to two years. Because of its lethality, pancreatic cancer now ranks fourth as a cause of death from cancer. There are country-specific differences in rates, perhaps explained by differences in life-style factors or diet. African-Americans in the USA have rates that are about 50% higher than Caucasians. Smoking is the major known risk factor for this cancer, explaining 20-30% of all cases. Another 5-10% of causes are caused by germline mutations, with mutations in BRCA2 being the most frequent. Two background diseases increase the risk of pancreatic cancer-pancreatitis, and diabetes. Major challenges presented by this cancer are: 1) determination of the molecular pathways that make this cancer so aggressive; 2) development of new modalities, perhaps based on proteomics, to enhance early detection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatitis / complications
  • Risk Factors