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Pancreatic Cancer – Causes & Factors That Put You at Risk

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Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas. The pancreas, located behind the lower part of the stomach, is responsible for releasing enzymes that aid digestion and produces hormones that help manage blood sugar. Cancerous and noncancerous growths can occur in the pancreas, but the most common type of cancer that forms in the pancreas begins in the cells that line the ducts that carry digestive enzymes out of the pancreas. This is called pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.



Pancreatic cancer is seldom detected at its early stages when it’s most curable, as the symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don’t occur until the disease is advanced. You must get in touch with a specialist if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned below: 

  • Abdominal pain that radiates to your back

  • Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss

  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)

  • Light-colored stools

  • Dark-colored urine

  • Itchy skin

  • New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that’s becoming more difficult to control

  • Blood clots

  • Fatigue

Pancreatic cancer treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these.


Risk Factors

Cancer of the pancreas is caused when mutated cells grow out of control, forming a tumor. While the exact cause of pancreatic cancer is not known, certain risk factors are strongly linked to the disease, such as:

  • Tobacco consumed by means of smoking cigarettes, cigars, and pipes or chewing, increases the risk of developing Pancreatic Cancer.

  • Medical conditions such as Stomach Ulcer, Diabetes, Hereditary Pancreatitis, and Hepatitis Virus Infection increases the risk of Pancreatic Cancer.

  • It has been observed that 7 out of 10 cases of chronic cancer are due to long-term drinking. Alcohol increases the risk factor. Excessive consumption of red meat is also linked to Pancreatic Cancer.

  • About 10 percent of pancreatic cancers are thought to be related to genetic factors, meaning an inherited gene mutation is passed on from parents to their children. These include Mutations in the genes PRSS1 (familial pancreatitis), NF1 (neurofibromatosis, type 1), BRCA2 (hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome), and p16 (familial melanoma). Although these genetic conditions do not directly cause pancreatic cancer, they may increase your risks for developing the disease.

  • Other inherited syndromes such as Lynch Syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (JPS), Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome (VHL), and MEN1 (multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1) syndromes may be linked to pancreatic cancer.



According to Dr. Tarang Krishna’s team, which heads a leading cancer hospital in west Delhi, the following precautions can help prevent pancreatic cancer, or at least slow it down:

  • Quit smoking since tobacco is considered to be a major risk factor. With the help of support groups, medications, and nicotine replacement therapy, the process might be made easier.

  • Keep a healthy weight, exercise, and increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you need to lose weight, aim for a slow, steady weight loss — 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week.

  • Increase foods rich in Vitamin B (B6, B12, and Folate) as they are considered to reduce the risk of cancer

  • Consider meeting with a genetic counselor if you have a family history of pancreatic cancer. He or she can review your family health history with you and determine whether you might benefit from a genetic test to understand your risk of pancreatic cancer or other cancers.


Pancreatic cancer treatment depends on the stage of the disease, the location of cancer, the severity of symptoms, and the general health and budget of the patient. Conventionally, if found at an early stage, cancer can be treated by surgery. However, if cancer has spread, the patient may undergo palliative pancreatic cancer treatment. It is essential to find a cancer treatment facility so that a team of experts can carefully plan your treatment based on the points mentioned above and your reports.

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