Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Causes and risk factors

Risk factors

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, include:

  • Age – most pancreatic cancer occurs in people over the age of 60.
  • Smoking – cigarette smokers are two or three times more likely than nonsmokers to develop pancreatic cancer.
  • Diabetes – pancreatic cancer occurs more often in people who have diabetes than in those who do not.
  • Being male – more men than women are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
  • Being African American – African Americans are more likely than Asians, Hispanics or Caucasians to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
  • Family history – the risk for developing pancreatic cancer triples if a person’s mother, father or a sibling had the disease.
  • Chronic pancreatitis – this condition of the pancreas has been linked with increased risk for pancreatic cancer.