What Are The Causes Of Pancreatic Cancer?

Just like other types of cancer, the leading cause of pancreatic cancer is not exactly known. However, the cancer causes and risk factors for pancreatic cancer are associated with several threats that affect the DNA of the cells found in the pancreas.

This may, therefore, result in abnormal cell growth and lead to the formation of a tumor. The changes in DNA that turn on oncogene and turns off tumor suppressor genes may lead to the growth of cancer. These gene mutations include: (1)

  • Inherited Gene Mutation: First, these are genes inherited by some people from their parents; it can increase the risk of one having pancreatic cancer.
  • Acquired Gene Mutation: It is the most common way through which one can get pancreatic cancer. They may result from exposure to cancer-causing chemicals like tar that is found in tobacco. However, the primary cause of this change is not known.

What Are The Risk Factor for Pancreatic Cancer?

If you have one or several of the risk factors, it does not mean that you have to get cancer. However, these risk factors expose you to higher chances of having pancreatic cancer; especially exocrine pancreatic cancer. These risk factors include: (2)

  • Use of Tobacco: Smoking especially tobacco is the most important risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Smoking cigars and pipes also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. This contributes to a higher percentage of smokers having pancreatic cancer as compared to non-smokers.
  • Exposure to Chemicals: Chemicals used in dry cleaning and metal industries may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, particularly when the exposure is massive.
  • Overweight: Obesity and being overweight are major risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
  • Diabetes: Pancreatic cancer is common in people with diabetes, especially in people with diabetes type 2.
  • Age: The risk of getting pancreatic cancer increases with the increase in age.
  • Gender: Men are likely to have pancreatic cancer than a woman. This may be due to a large number of people who smoke as compared to women.
  • Family History: A family history of pancreatic cancer increases the risk of one having cancer. This is because of some inherited syndromes.
  • Alcohol Use: Heavy use of alcohol can lead to having chronic pancreatitis which increases the risk of one having pancreatic cancer. It may also result in liver cirrhosis which is the scarring of the liver.
  • Other Causes: There are also rare cancer causes and risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer. These include risk factors such as:
    • Stomach problem
    • Physical inactivity
    • Alcohol
    • Coffee
    • Race
    • Diet

Inherited Gene Syndromes 

Inherited Gene Syndromes can transfer from parents to children. It is harder for doctors to prevent and cure this type of cancers because the problem lies in the patient’s genes themselves. Furthermore, they usually lead to exocrine pancreatic cancer, and these syndromes are:

  • Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome
  • Familial atypical multiple mole melanomas (FAMMM) syndromes
  • Lynch syndrome
  • Familial pancreatitis
  • Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
  • Pteuz-Jeghers syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis and Multiple endocrine neoplasias in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and cancers.


Pancreatic Cancer Causes and Risk Factors. (n.d.). Retrieved July 12, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/causes-pancreatic-cancer

Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors. (n.d.). Retrieved July 12, 2017, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html

CANCER RESEARCH UK. (n.d.). Retrieved July 12, 2017, from http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/pancreatic-cancer/risks-causes