pancreatic cancer risk factors


pancreatic cancer risk factor is a complex and aggressive disease. Many risk factors that can determine the onset. Here’s how to diagnose it, the cure and the methods to prevent it

Defined as a “great killer” or “silent disease”, pancreatic cancer is a complex, aggressive disease that manifests itself when some cells multiply without control. The pancreas, as known, produces pancreatic juices, fluids containing enzymes that contribute to digestion; in addition to producing insulin and other hormones that, after entering the circulation, reach the whole body and serve to use or store the energy deriving from food.

Insulin, for example, contributes to the control of blood glucose.


Among the risk factors of pancreatic cancer, the genetic ones (family history of pancreatic cancer), smoking, diabetes mellitus, biliary lithiasis, chronic pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, Helicobacter Pylori infection, nutritional factors (low diet) content of fruits and vegetables, high in meat and fat), overweight, obesity, substances such as pesticides, dyes, chemical products used in metal refining, acrylamide. Among the professional categories at risk: chemists, garages, distributors of petrol, subjects exposed to benzidine and benzylalanine. Among the factors: age over 60, male, African-American, more affected than the white.


Unfortunately, in the early phase pancreatic cancer does not show any particular signs and is rather vaguely disturbed. Clearer symptoms occur when the tumor has begun to spread to nearby organs and has blocked the bile ducts. The following may occur: weight loss and appetite, jaundice, pain in the upper abdomen or back, weakness, nausea or vomiting. Some individuals may also be affected by diabetes due to the inability of cells to produce insulin.


If there is a suspicion of pancreatic cancer, there are several tests to be submitted: CAT (spiral or helical), external abdominal and internal ultrasound, performed endoscopically, through the intestine. In the presence of jaundice (yellow skin coloring), to check that the bile ducts are obstructed and that this obstruction is due to a tumor, two tests are used: endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogragia, using a tracer radioactive made to arrive in the ducts through appropriate catheters, verifying the presence or absence of cancer cells. During the two tests it is possible to make a biopsy sample.

Pancreatic cancer patients often exhibit increased levels of the Ca-19-9 protein, so in the detection of an abnormal value, it is necessary to deepen the investigations. The surgery is now one of the most effective ways to take action on pancreatic cancer.

Among the types of intervention: the duodenocephaly-pancreasectomy (DCP), consisting in the removal of the head of the pancreas, the most voluminous part of the gland; the distal pancreasectomy, in which the left side of the gland is removed and, in most cases, the spleen, very close to the tail of the pancreas; total pancreasectomy, ie the complete removal of the gland. For anatomical reasons, duodenum, choledochus and gallbladder are also removed.

hepaticojejunostomy and gastrojejunostomy provide, instead, a by-pass to the progression of bile or stomach contents, when they are blocked by a non-removable pancreatic mass. Valid ally of surgery is the radiotherapy, used in both pre-operatively (neoadjuvant), that the post-surgery (adjuvant), consisting in the use of high-energy radiation bets on the affected area to destroy the cells tumorali.La chemotherapy instead, it involves the use of chemotherapeutic drugs (cytotoxic or antiblastic) to destroy cancer cells.


To prevent unexplained pancreatic cancer, adopt a low-alcohol diet rich in fruits and vegetables, subjecting you to period checks on the function of pancreas, liver and intestine, especially in the presence of other cases of pancreatic cancer in the family.

What are the risk factors for pancreatic cancer?

Factors that favor the appearance of pancreatic cancer – a very serious malignant neoplasm – have been widely studied.
A decisive influence on the development of the disease seems to have it:

The cigarette smoke . This risk factor favors a long series of other tumors malignant, of all the lung cancer .
An unhealthy diet, rich in fat and meat . In contrast, it seems that a healthy diet , consisting of fruits and vegetables , protects from the pathology.
L ‘ obesity . According to various studies, overweight and above all obese people are at greater risk of getting pancreatic cancer .
The chronic pancreatitis . It is a type of inflammation of the long-term pancreas and which tends to worsen over time until, in some cases, the appearance of a cancer.
Family history . According to some genetic studies, those who have (or have had) blood relatives with pancreatic cancer are more likely to develop the same malignant neoplasm.
The ‘ advanced age . The risk of getting sick increases with age: in fact, the majority of patients are aged 50 and over.

However, the influence of diabetes mellitus , excessive consumption of coffee and alcohol abuse is still uncertain . In fact, only part of the research carried out so far demonstrates a link between these conditions and the development of a malignant neoplasm of the pancreas.

Pancreatic cancer, a serious malignant neoplasm but, at least initially, “silent”

The pancreatic cancer is a malignant neoplasm of the outcome almost always poor.
In fact, it is thought that only 26% of patients are still alive after a year from diagnosis and a miserable 5-6% after 5 years.

To make the situation even more problematic is the fact that, initially, pancreatic cancer presents itself with very vague symptoms and signs . Indeed, in some patients, it is completely asymptomatic.
This “silence” prevents an early diagnosis, which – it should be specified – would not be enough to make the prognosis positive.

Some possible manifestations of the initial phase of the disease are: pain in the back and / or the abdomen , sense of nausea and loss of appetite .

As you can see, these disorders – which in time will be followed by vomiting , constipation alternating with diarrhea , hematemesis (vomiting with blood), jaundice and weight loss – are completely non-specific.

Famous figures who died of pancreatic cancer

The pancreatic cancer is a highly lethal malignancy, which, in five years from diagnosis, has a survival rate of 5-6%.Many famous people died, more or less recently, due to a malignant neoplasm of the pancreas .
One of these is the most famous Italian lyric tenor in the world, Luciano Pavarotti. To him, pancreatic cancer that led to his death in 2007, was diagnosed in 2006.
Another is Steve Jobs, co-founder of a very famous computer company, as well as entrepreneur and film producer. His fight against the disease began in 2004 and ended, not without numerous sufferings, in 2011.
Another is the well-known actor Patrick Swayze, who acted as protagonists in very famous films like Ghost or Dirty Dancing.. In his case, the cancer was diagnosed in January 2008 and death occurred in September 2009, about 20 months later.

Moreover, for jazz music lovers, it is impossible not to mention Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet player, pianist, musical composer and singer on occasion too; for cinema connoisseurs, the Italian actress Anna Magnani or the American actress Joan Crawford; for football fans, the great former full-back of Inter Giacinto Facchetti and the great former Juventus striker Omar Sivori.

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