Risk Factors for Pancreas Cancer

A closer look at the pancreas located deep in the abdomen, between the stomach and the spine.

Pancreatic cancer is called a silent killer because it often grows or spreads undetected. Few cancers are diagnosed at an early stage and about 80 percent of pancreatic cancers are caught at a late stage.

Some factors may increase your risk for developing pancreas cancer. These include:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Aromatic amines exposure (chemical industry)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cocaine abuse
  • Family history of the disease
  • Genetic risk, such as:
    • Mutations in the BRCA2, PALB2 or ATM genes
    • Lynch syndrome (also known as HNPCC)
    • FAP (Familial Adenomatous Polyposis)
    • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
    • FAMMM (Familial Atypical Multiple Mole Melanoma syndrome)
    • Hereditary pancreatitis

Researchers continue to study other factors’ impact on the disease, such as high-fat diets and genetic susceptibility.