Over 95% of pancreatic cancers are pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDA).
Pancreatic cancer is the most lethal cancer, and more than 60% of pancreatic cancer patients die within a few months. Only about 30% patients with pancreatic cancer live up to one year.
Pancreatic cancer patients have the best five-year survival if surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are performed in the first or second pre-metastatic stage of development.
Worldwide pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related mortality. Approximately 270,000 new PDA cases are diagnosed worldwide, and 260,000 patients die each year.
In a recent review, scientists summarize the main risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
Obesity is the strongest risk factor for pancreatic cancer as well as increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. Almost 34% of adults in the USA are obese.
It was reported that body fatness increases pancreatic cancer risk from 20% to 50% as compared to people with normal BMI.
Obese people are often diagnosed with pancreatic cancer one year earlier than the average population; individuals with abdominal fatness are more susceptible to pancreatic cancer than individuals with fatness of other body parts.
Type 2 diabetes is another dangerous risk factor. It can increase the risk of liver, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers by a factor of approximately two, and the risk of breast, colorectal, kidney, and bladder cancer.
Research suggests that overweight/obesity with consequent insulin resistance and hyperinsulinaemia is the main risk of pancreatic cancer.
Diet could be a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Unfavorable dietary habits such as saturated fat, alcohol consumption, and high salt intake can lead to type 2 diabetes and thus higher risk of pancreatic cancer.
Tobacco smoking is seriously involved in the development of pancreatic cancer.
Previous studies show that smoking is responsible for nearly 25% of pancreatic cancer, and that carbon monoxide, benzene, vinyl chloride, and many other compounds play a destructive role not only in the development, but also in the progression of pancreatic cancer.
Tobacco smoking renders cancer cells more metastatic; nicotine stimulates tumor growth and invasion. Patients who smoke decrease their own survival rate because tobacco directly and negatively interferes with chemotherapy.
Alcohol drinking is also a risk factor of pancreatic cancer. Heavy drinkers are more prone to PDA. Previous research shows that chronic drinking is associated with chronic alcoholic pancreatitis, which could increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
It was reported that people who drink six or more alcoholic drinks per day for many years have a higher risk of PDA than people drinking in moderation.
Work exposures for chlorinated hydrocarbons and aliphatic solvents, nickel and chromium compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and organochlorine insecticides are linked to the development of pancreatic cancer.
Aging is an important risk factor that is not modifiable. As people get older, they have higher risk to get the cancer.
Ethnicity is another demographic risk factor. Afro-American population is more vulnerable to pancreatic cancer than white populations. African American and Ashkenazic Jewish races have more significant risk of pancreatic cancer than the general white population.
It was reported that the risk of pancreatic cancer was associated with genetic predisposition. However, genetics account for only a small proportion of PDAs.
Mutation of genes in people with a predisposition to genetic mutations significantly increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, causing hereditary pancreatitis.
Different from the above risk factors, physical activity is an important protective factor for PDA, decreasing the risk of pancreatic cancer by 12–37%.
To reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, leisure-time activities are more important than occupational activities.
Some researchers suggest that physical activity reduces glucose levels and unhealthy triglycerols, and prevent type 2 diabetes, which can reduce pancreatic cancer thereafter.
In addition, it was proven that physical exercise protects against being overweight and obese, which also can decrease pancreatic cancer risk.
News source: Contemp Oncol (Pozn). The content is edited for length and style purposes.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is credited to Yale Rosen.