Causes & risk factors

Obesity, age & diet are some of the risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer.

What causes pancreatic cancer?

Changes in your DNA, either inherited or have arisen over time - cause pancreatic cancer. The changes that arise over time can happen due to exposure to something harmful, or happen randomly. Pancreatic cancer’s exact causes are not well understood.

The following risk factors may be associated with pancreatic cancer:

Inherited genetic mutations: 

  •  Family history of pancreatic cancer or other cancers
  •  Diabetes
  •  Pancreatitis (chronic and hereditary)
  •  Smoking
  •  Obesity
  •  Race (ethnicity)
  •  Age
  •  Diet

It doesn’t mean that everyone who has these risk factors will get pancreatic cancer, or that everyone who gets pancreatic cancer has one or more of these.  If you are concerned, please see your GP.

Pancreatic cancer diagnoses

If you are displaying pancreatic cancer symptoms, your doctor may do a few things to see if you have pancreatic cancer. These could include:

  • Enquiring about your medical and family history
  • Perform a physical exam, looking at your body, skin and eyes and checking your abdomen for changes around the pancreas, liver and gallbladder
  • Request blood, urine and stool tests
  • Order an imaging study, like a CT scan or MRI
  • Get a tissue sample (biopsy).