Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer


Pancreatic Cancer has been and still is one of the deadliest types of human malignancies. The annual mortality rates almost equal incidence rates making this disease virtually universally fatal. The 5-year survival of patients with pancreatic cancer is a dismal 5% or less. Well known possible and probable risk factors for the development of pancreatic cancer are age, smoking, chronic pancreatitis, obesity, and type-2 diabetes mellitus. Chronic pancreatitis increases the risk of pancreatic cancer by up to 13 times. Patients with hereditary forms of chronic pancreatitis have an even higher risk. Obesity, a growing global health problem, increases the risk of pancreatic cancer by about 1.5 fold. Type-2 diabetes mellitus is also associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer by at least two-fold. In addition, heavy alcohol drinking, a family history of the disease, male gender and African American ethnicity are other risk factors for pancreatic cancer.Pancreatic cancer is characterized by several genetic alterations including mutations in the Kras proto-oncogene and mutations in the tumor suppressor genes p53 and p16. While Kras mutations are currently thought as early events present in a certain percentage of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias (PanINs), known precursor lesions of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas, mutations in tumor suppressor genes. Overall, these genetic alterations lead to enhanced and sustained proliferation, resistance to cell death, invasive and metastatic potential, and angiogenesis, all hallmarks of cancers.