What causes pancreatic cancer?
Although the cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown, research into this is ongoing. Like other cancers, cancer of the pancreas is not infectious and can’t be passed on to other people.
There are a number of risk factors that can increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Risk factors may not be a direct cause of a particular disease, but seem to be associated with its development in some way. A person has a higher-than-average risk of developing pancreatic cancer if s/he falls within the following risk groups.
Age - Pancreatic cancer occurs in people aged between 60 and 80. It is rarely diagnosed before age 50. About 6 out of 10 cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed in people over 70. Other rarer types, such as neuroendocrine and papillary cancer, may affect people in their 20s and 30s.
Diabetes - There may be a small increase in the risk of developing cancer of the pancreas if a person has been diagnosed with diabetes.
Diet - A diet that contains large amounts of fat, sugar, red or processed meat may increase a person’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer. The risk may also be increased if a person does not eat many fresh fruit sand vegetables.
Family history - Patients with a family history of colon cancers, melanoma or pancreatic cancer may be at increased risk for pancreatic cancer.
Genetics - Hereditary factors can possible increase your likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer. There does seem to be a hereditary component in 10-15% of patients with pancreatic cancer who are also diagnosed with the following conditions
- Hereditary pancreatitis
- Hereditary nonpolyposis
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
Other pancreatic conditions – People diagnosed with other types of pancreatitis conditions such as pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) are more likely to develop cancer of the pancreas. One of the major causes of chronic pancreatitis is drinking large amounts of alcohol over long periods of time.
Smoking and tobacco use- People who smoke are more at risk of developing cancer of the pancreas than people who do not. Up to one third of all pancreatic cancers may be linked to smoking. People who chew tobacco are also at increased risk or developing pancreatic cancer.
To better understand the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, continue reading here. For those who think that they may be experiencing the condition, the next section on pancreatic cancer symptoms outlines the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
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