Pancreatic Cancer: Are You at Risk?

Pancreatic CancerAnyone can get pancreatic cancer. But there are some factors that can increase your risk, such as:

  • Older age. Your risk for pancreatic cancer goes up as you get older. About 2 in 3 people are 65 or older when they are diagnosed.
  • Male gender. Men are more likely to get pancreatic cancer than women.
  • Race. African-Americans are slightly more likely to get pancreatic cancer than people of other races.
  • Tobacco use. The use of any type of tobacco increases your risk.
  • Obesity. People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk.
  • Diabetes. People with long-term diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, appear to be at increased risk.
  • Chronic pancreatitis. Long-term inflammation of the pancreas is linked with a higher risk.
  • Cirrhosis. Scarring of the liver increases your risk. This can result from liver damage due to hepatitis or heavy alcohol use.
  • Family history. People with family members who have had pancreatic cancer are at higher risk. Still, most people with pancreatic cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, especially in the workplace. People who are exposed to certain chemicals at work, such as dry cleaners, might have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Some other chemicals, such as benzene and certain pesticides or dyes, might also raise the risk.

Other factors might affect pancreatic cancer risk, including eating an unhealthy diet, not being physically active, and heavy alcohol use. Research on these and other risk factors is in progress.

What Are Your Risk Factors?

Talk with your health care provider about your risk factors for pancreatic cancer. Some risk factors are not under your control, but there are things you can do that might lower your risk:

  • Do not use any form of tobacco. If you do, try to quit.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink.
  • Reach and keep a healthy weight.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals that might increase your risk. 

New Clinical Trial

Western Connecticut Health Network is organizing a clinical trial with the goal of improving pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment. To learn more and watch a short video about these efforts, click here.