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The main risk factor for pancreatic cancer is preventable: smoking. About 30% of pancreatic cancers are thought to be a direct result of cigarette smoking. Other risks include:

  • Age (risk increases with age and the average age at diagnosis is 71 years)
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Gender (men are 30 per cent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer)
  • Chronic pancreatitis 
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Exposure to some industrial chemicals, such as certain pesticides and petroleum products
  • Family History (an inherited tendency may be a factor in 5% to 10% of cases)

It should be noted that most people who have known risk factors do not get pancreatic cancer, and many who do get pancreatic cancer have none of these risk factors.

Last Review Date: March 6, 2017