The risk of pancreatic cancer in patients with gastric or duodenal ulcer disease

Int J Cancer. 2007 Jan 15;120(2):368-72. doi: 10.1002/ijc.22123.


Although Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) seropositivity is linked to an excess risk of pancreatic cancer, the biologic mechanism is unknown. Gastric ulcer is primarily associated with corpus colonization of H. pylori, atrophic gastritis and formation of N-nitrosamines. Duodenal ulcer is a marker of antral colonization, hyperacidity and uninhibited secretin release. We estimated relative risks for pancreatic cancer among patients with gastric or duodenal ulcer, based on a register-based retrospective cohort study with 88,338 patients hospitalized for gastric ulcer and 70,516 patients for duodenal ulcer recorded in the Swedish Inpatient Register between 1965 and 2003. Following operation, the 14,887 patients who underwent gastric resection and 8,205 with vagotomy were analyzed separately. Multiple record-linkages allowed complete follow-up and identification of all incident cases of pancreatic cancer until December 31, 2003. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) estimated relative risks. During years 3-38 of follow-up, we observed a 20% excess risk (95% confidence interval [CI] 10-40%) for pancreatic cancer among unoperated gastric ulcer patients. The excess increased to 50% (95% CI 10-110%) 15 years after first hospitalization (p for trend = 0.03). SIR was 2.1 (95% CI 1.4-3.1) 20 years after gastric resection. Unoperated duodenal ulcer was not associated with pancreatic cancer risk, nor was vagotomy. Our results lend indirect support to the nitrosamine hypothesis, but not to the hyperacidity hypothesis in the etiology of pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Duodenal Ulcer / complications*
  • Duodenal Ulcer / microbiology
  • Duodenal Ulcer / surgery
  • Female
  • Gastrectomy
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications*
  • Helicobacter pylori / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stomach Ulcer / complications*
  • Stomach Ulcer / microbiology
  • Stomach Ulcer / surgery
  • Vagotomy