All You Need to Know About Pancreatic Cancer, Symptoms Treatment Options

October 6, 2021

Pancreatic cancer is one of the leading cancer causes of death in the United States. It is estimated that more than 50,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and more than 40,000 people die from the disease each year. The lifetime risk of this disease is 1.6. The risk is almost the same for men and women, and the typical age at diagnosis is 74-65 years.

Anything that increases your risk of pancreatic cancer is a risk factor. Many risk factors can be modified and some cannot. Pancreatic cancer occurs when changes (mutations) in pancreatic cells cause them to multiply uncontrollably. This can lead to a mass of tissue. Sometimes this mass is benign (not cancerous). However, in pancreatic cancer, the mass is malignant (cancerous). There is a forum with many Pancreatic Cancer Message Boards, where you can participate in and get yourself updated. 

Two types of tumors grow in the pancreas: exocrine tumors or neuroendocrine tumors. The most common type starts in the pancreas and is known as ductal adenocarcinoma.


The rest of the pancreatic tumors – about 7% of the total – are neurological and endocrine tumors (NETs), also called pancreatic NETs (PNETs), islet cell tumors or islet cell carcinomas. Some networks produce too much hormone. They can be named for the type of hormone the cell makes – for example, the insulinoma can be a tumor in the cell that makes insulin.

Modifiable risk factors include:


Smoking: People who smoke are twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer. Obesity: Being overweight (BMI or high BMI) increases the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 20 times. Pancreatic cancer risk factors cannot be changed, including:


Age: The risk of pancreatic cancer increases dramatically from the age of 55. Ethnicity: African Americans are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than other ethnic groups. Family history: Hereditary genetic changes can be responsible for approximately 10% of pancreatic cancers. Examples of genetic syndromes that can cause extrinsic pancreatic cancer are hereditary breast and ovarian cancer caused by mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, Lynch syndrome (usually a defect in the MLH1 or MSH2 genes), and hereditary ones Pancreatitis due to mutations in the PRSSI gene causing diabetes: People with a long history of type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. Chronic pancreatitis: Prolonged pancreatitis is associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, especially among smokers.

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