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Learning about pancreatic cancer: My House

What are the risk factors for pancreatic cancer?

Cancer risk factors are things that put you at higher risk for having cancer. Pancreatic cancer risk factors may include:

  • Smoking: people who smoke are more likely to have pancreatic cancer than those who do not. It is the most important risk factor
  • Diabetes: people who have diabetes are at an increased risk for pancreatic cancer
  • Family health history: having a parent, brother, or sister with pancreatic cancer increases your own risk
  • Health history: having a swollen (inflamed) pancreas, called pancreatitis, for a long time increases the risk for pancreatic cancer. Stomach infections caused by a certain type of bacterium also increase this risk
  • Being overweight: being overweight or obese increases the risk for pancreatic cancer
  • Gender and age: Men and people over age 55 are more likely to get pancreatic cancer than are women and people under age 55
  • Liver problems: people who have scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis, are at increased risk for pancreatic cancer
  • Being around certain chemicals: being exposed to certain chemicals used to kill bugs and animals (pesticides , dyes, and chemicals used to refine metal increases the risk for pancreatic cancer

Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about risk factors for pancreatic cancer.

To the right are examples of organizations and resources you may find helpful. Click on the links to visit those websites and learn more.


Can I be screened for pancreatic cancer?

People with a family history of pancreatic cancer can be screened, though there is no sure way of finding it early. That is one of the challenges with this type of cancer. The pancreas is small, hidden inside the belly, and covered by other organs. That is why healthcare providers often cannot feel it during an exam. Also, this type of cancer often does not have symptoms until the cancer has progressed and spread to other organs. Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk for pancreatic cancer and about the symptoms you should know about.

To the right are examples of organizations and resources you may find helpful. Click on the links to visit those websites and learn more.


How can I reduce my risk for pancreatic cancer?

There is no sure way to prevent pancreatic cancer. But you can avoid some of the things that increase your risk for it. Not smoking cigarettes is one of them. Staying at a healthy weight, eating healthfully, and being active also lower your risk. Talk with your healthcare provider about ways to lower your risk for pancreatic cancer.

To the right are examples of organizations and resources you may find helpful. Click on the links to visit those websites and learn more.

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