Why pancreatic cancer will become more worrying in the future

This high rate of is explained by the impossibility of adequately treating this cancer when it is adapted to an advanced stage, which is often the case. This cancer is indeed characterized by a silent progression, without apparent symptoms, and very quickly forms metastases. When the first warning signs appear (jaundice, weight loss, fatigue, pain in the abdomen or back), the cancer has already spread to the surrounding tissues (liver, lymph nodes). It is too late to be excised by surgery.

Why are there more pancreatic cancers

Another worrying aspect of pancreatic cancer is that many specialists are likely that its impact may worsen over the next few years. In addition, this disease could become the second leading cause of cancer death by 2030. A recent article summarizes the main factors behind this upward trend:

Obesity and diabetes

Historically, smoking has been the main lifestyle factor associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer (the risk is doubled in smokers). With the drastic drop in the number of smokers, we should normally have expected to see the incidence of pancreatic cancer drop sharply. In a similar way to the constant decline in lung cancer experienced over the past fifteen years. Unfortunately, these gains have been offset by skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes, which are also major risk factors for pancreatic cancer.

Better identification of cancer cells

The constant improvement of diagnostic tools (high-definition imaging, ultra-sensitive genetic and biochemical tests) means that it is now possible to determine the origin of cancerous cells with greater precision. Tumors that were once classified as of unknown origin can now be reported and found to be of pancreatic origin.

Improving the effectiveness of the treatment of several cancers

Screening and the development of new drugs have made it possible to significantly reduce the mortality rate for breast, prostate and colon cancer. Unfortunately, these advances have not had the same success for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. As a result, an increasing proportion of cancer-related liability falls on cancer patients.

More obesity, more cancer

Excess fat represents a pathological condition associated with chronic inflammation. An overproduction of several growth factors and important metabolic disturbances which, collectively, require the development of several types of cancer. With regard to pancreatic cancer, studies indicate that people who are obese in early adulthood (20-49 years) are 150% more likely to be struck down by pancreatic cancer.

How to prevent pancreatic cancer

Avoiding smoking: Maintaining a healthy weight and reducing your consumption of red meats and deli meats in favor of vegetable protein sources present the best known ways to limit the progression of these microtumors and prevent the development of pancreatic cancer. This is all the more important as we are at high risk of developing this cancer. Because autopsies performed on people who died of causes other than cancer that 75% of the population has precancerous lesions in the pancreas


Rahib L et al. Projecting Cancer Incidence and Deaths to 2030: The Unexpected Burden of Thyroid, Liver, and Pancreatic Cancers in the United States. Cancer Res. 2014 ; 74: 2913–2921.

Wallis C. Why pancreatic cancer is on the rise. Scientific American, April 1, 2018. https://www.scientifica-merican.com/article/why-pancrea-tic-cancer-is-on-the-rise/

Li et al. Body mass index, age at onset and survival in patients with pancreatic cancer. JAMA 2009; 301: 2553-2562.

Cubilla AL and PJ Fitzgerald. Morphological lesions associated with human primary invasive non-endocrine pancreatic cancer. Cancer Res. 1976; 36:2690-8.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO EVENT can the information replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

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