What is the #1 cause of pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells begin to grow uncontrollably and form tumors within the pancreas.
- Age >45 years
- Male gender
- African American race
- Cigarette smoking (responsible for about 25% of pancreatic cancers)
- Alcohol abuse
- Regular consumption of high dietary fats
- Obesity (obese people are about 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than non-obese people)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Chronic pancreatitis (often seen with heavy alcohol use and smoking)
- Family history of pancreatic cancer
- Heavy exposure to certain chemicals used in the dry cleaning and metalworking industries
Other factors that may contribute to the development of cancer include:
How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed?
The doctor first asks about the person’s medical history and family history. Then, they look for signs and symptoms of the disease. They might order the tests listed below if they suspect cancer. However, the diagnosis will be confirmed with laboratory examination of a sample of tissue from the tumor taken during a biopsy, fine needle aspiration, or surgery.
Imaging tests: Imaging tests help doctors find out the location and size of cancer and whether there is metastasis (spread of cancer in the body). These include:
- Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan or PET-CT scan
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
- Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC)
Other tests include:
- Biopsy (removal of a small sample of pancreatic tissue for examination under a microscope)
- Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC, insertion of a thin needle into the pancreas to suction out cells)
- Core needle biopsy (collecting a larger piece of tissue for molecular or genetic testing of the tumor)
- Molecular testing of the tumor (examination of tumor sample to look for changes in specific genes and proteins)
- Germline testing (testing a blood or saliva sample to look for person’s hereditary predisposition to cancer)
Can pancreatic cancer be cured?
If you have pancreatic cancer that has spread (metastasis) to other organs it might be very hard to treat and almost impossible to cure. In this case, the doctor will give you treatment to limit cancer and its symptoms, and help you live longer.
Treatment for pancreatic cancer depends on the stage of cancer and includes:
- Surgery: Surgery is an option for patients whose pancreatic cancer is localized, i.e. is present only in the pancreas and has not spread anywhere else. Only about 20% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer can have surgery because most pancreatic cancers are found after the disease has already spread.
- Radiation therapy: Once cancer spreads outside of the pancreas, doctors consider local therapy, such as radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses X-rays and other high-energy beams to destroy the cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. This is usually used if cancer has spread to other organs of the body. In some cases, your doctor might combine other treatments like surgery and radiation with chemotherapy to prevent the future growth of pancreatic tumors.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that help in the growth of cancer. It blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells, but restricts damage to normal cells.
How can you prevent pancreatic cancer?
You cannot control risk factors such as age, gender, race, and family history. But there are things you can follow to lower your risk, including the following:
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Pancreatic cancer. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/
Top What Is the Number One Cause of Pancreatic Cancer Related Articles
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Cancer 101 SlideshowLearn the basics about cancer including types, causes, how it spreads, symptoms and signs, stages and treatment options. Read about the common type of cancers.
Cancer Risk Factors and CausesThough it's difficult to say why some people develop cancer while others don't, research shows that certain risk factors increase a person's odds of developing cancer. These risk factors include growing older, family history of cancer, diet, alcohol and tobacco use, and exposure to sunlight, ionizing radiation, certain chemicals, and some viruses and bacteria.
Screening Tests for CancerCancer detection are methods used to find cancer in persons who may or may not have symptoms. Symptoms of cancer are abnormal sensations or conditions that persons can notice that are a result of the cancer. It is important to your doctor for regular checkups and not wait for problems to occur.
Cancer FatigueCancer fatigue is a lack of energy that is caused by cancer or cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation, biological therapy, or bone marrow transplantation. Strategies to combat cancer fatigue include scheduling rest, pacing oneself, planning ahead and prioritizing work and activities, eating the right foods, exercising, and practicing proper body mechanics.
Guide to LeukemiaLearn about the common types and stages of leukemia, who gets it, symptoms, tests, treatments, and more. People with blood cancer are living longer than ever, and it may be curable.
Top Cancer-Fighting FoodsExperts have praised certain foods for their ability to reduce cancer risks. Learn which foods and eating strategies may help reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Cancer PreventionCertain behavioral, lifestyle, and environmental factors contribute to cancer. Cancer prevention involves modifying these factors to decrease cancer risk. Tobacco use, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, and obesity increase the risk of certain cancers. Vaccines, genetic testing, and cancer screening also play a role in cancer prevention.
Cancer QuizTake this quiz to learn the causes of cancer. Get the facts about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for the world's most common cancers.
What Are the Early Warning Signs of Pancreatic Cancer?Pancreatic cancer does not show its signs and symptoms in its early stages. Only when it has grown large enough, it begins to exhibit its warning signs and symptoms. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), belly or back pain, unintended weight loss, poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, enlarged gallbladder or liver, deep vein thrombosis or DVT (blood clots in a large vein, usually in the leg), and diabetes.
Is Cancer Contagious?Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. A variety of parasites and viruses have been linked to various cancers. Cancer may metastasize, spreading from its original location to other organs. If you have cancer, you should seek medical care immediately if you experience high fever, shortness of breath, intense headaches, vomiting blood or passing blood rectally, chest pain or moderate to severe weakness, passing out (fainting), mental status changes, or seizures.
Is Pancreatic Cancer Back Pain Constant?Cancer of the the pancreas is called pancreatic cancer. Pain in the upper abdomen and back is commonly seen in those who have pancreatic cancer. The back pain is generally not constant.
Pancreatic CancerPancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer has been called a "silent" disease because early pancreatic cancer usually does not cause early symptoms. Typically, pancreatic cancer has metastasized (spread to adjacent organs, such as the liver) by the time most people receive a dignosis of pancreatic cancer. Symptoms and signs usually appear later in the course of the disease and include jaundice, back pain, nausea, weight loss, itching, and loss of appetite. Treatment depends upon the type of pancreatic cancer but may include surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy.
Pancreatic Cancer PictureAn abdominal CT scan shows a small, vaguely seen 2-cm pancreatic adenocarcinoma (mass) causing obstruction of both the common bile duct (cbd) and pancreatic duct (pd). See a picture of Pancreatic Cancer and learn more about the health topic.
Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms, Causes, and TreatmentLearn about pancreatic cancer signs, symptoms, causes, statistics, treatments (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, biological therapy) and their side effects on of malignant tumors of the pancreas.
The Seven Warning Signs of CancerThe awareness of early signs and symptoms for cancer types n order to get them diagnosed and treated at early stage is important.