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Causes and Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer
There are several risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer which include:
Age: The risk for developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Pancreatic cancer often occurs in people 50 and older.
Gender: Men are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer then women.
Family history: The risk for developing pancreatic cancer increases if there is a family history of the disease.
Genetic mutations: Medical research suggests that there is a high connection between pancreatic cancer and other forms of cancers. For example, people with a high tendency for developing skin cancer also have a higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Also, people with an inherited mutation on the BRCA2 gene, responsible for developing breast cancer, have a higher rate of pancreatic cancer. Likewise, inherited colorectal cancer is highly associated with a high risk for pancreatic cancer.
According to the latest medical research, pancreatic cancer patients undergo genetic alterations. This genetic alteration involves an activation of the K-ras oncogene and an inactivation of the tumor suppressor genes such as p16 and p53. Pancreatic cancer has the highest rate of K-ras mutation among all the human types of cancer. This type of mutation is considered to be associated with smoking.
Medical conditions: There are two medical conditions that can increase the risk for developing pancreatic cancer. These two medical conditions include: (1) diabetes mellitus and (2) hereditary chronic pancreatitis. Diabetes mellitus is a complex and chronic disorder of the metabolism due either to partial or total lack of insulin secretion of the pancreas or the inability of the insulin to function normally in the body. The risk for developing pancreatic cancer is higher within the first five years of diabetes. This risk is extremely higher for those patients that suffer from Type II diabetes and above average for patients with Type I diabetes.
Hereditary chronic pancreatitis is a rare genetic condition characterized by a long-term inflammation of the pancreas. This medical condition is associated with an increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer. However, most patients with hereditary chronic pancreatitis do not develop pancreatic cancer. One of the reasons why these two medical conditions are associated with pancreatic cancer is the common risk factors that cause them, such as cigarette smoking and inherited gene mutation.
Environmental factors: People that are exposed to carcinogens like asbestos, pesticides, dyes, and petroleum compounds have a higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer.
Article by Alina Morrow, MS
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