A risk factor makes the chances of getting a disease or health problem higher. You can have pancreatic cancer with or without them. But the more you have, the greater the chances this type of cancer can start.
Some risks can't be changed, such as your age. The risk gets higher for people over 50 years old. But, most people with this type of cancer are over 65 years old. Risk is nearly the same in men as in women.
Your chances are also higher for:
Smoke and cancer-causing agents harm the pancreas. This can change the how the cells work, which can make the turnover rate higher. The risk goes higher with the number of years as a smoker and the number of cigarettes smoked. Smoking counts for all forms such as pipes, cigars, and smokeless types.
Your chances of pancreatic cancer are higher for:
Drinking more than 3 drinks a day may not change your risk by itself. But, alcohol use raises the risk of or worsens health problems. This, in turn, makes the risk of pancreatic cancer higher. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble controlling how much you drink.
Problems with your genes can be there when you’re born. Others may appear later in life. Pancreatic cancer is linked to many genetic syndromes. These are:
Having someone in your family with pancreatic cancer makes your risk higher. Having other cancer types within your family also changes your risk.
Black people have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer than White people. But, it's less common in those who are Hispanic or Asian.
Boffetta P, Hecht S, Gray N, Gupta P, Straif K. Smokeless tobacco and cancer. Lancet Oncol. 2008;9(7):667-675.
General information about pancreatic cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/pancreatic/patient/pancreatic-treatment-pdq. Accessed October 3, 2020.
Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pancreatic-adenocarcinoma. Accessed October 3, 2020.
Pancreatic cancer: Risk factors. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Accessed October 3, 2020.
Pancreatic cancer risk factors. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html. Accessed October 3, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 12/16/2020