Risk Factors

Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

Often, the cause of pancreatic cancer is not known. A person with an "average risk" of pancreatic cancer has about a 1% chance of developing the disease. Generally, most pancreatic cancers (about 90%) are considered sporadic. Also called somatic mutations, this means the genetic changes that led to cancer developed by chance after a person was born. There is no risk of passing these genetic changes on to one’s children.

Inherited pancreatic cancers are less common (about 10% of all pancreatic cancers). They occur when gene mutations or changes are passed within a family from 1 generation to the next, raising the risk of pancreatic cancer. These are also called germline mutations.

In general, the following factors may raise a person’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer:

  • Family History of Cancer
  • Inherited Genetic Mutatations 
  • Diabetes (Long-standing & new onset)
  • Smoking
  • Race / Ethnicity
  • Obesity
  • Pancreatitus (Chronic & hereditary)
  • Older Age
  • Alcohol
  • Diet
  • Chemical & Heavy Metal Exposure
  • Gum Disease