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There is no way to know for sure if you're going to get pancreatic cancer, and there is no known way to prevent it. There are certain factors that can make you more likely to get this type of cancer. Some risk factors, such as age or family history, are out of your control. Other risk factors, such as smoking and diet, can be controlled.
The most common risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:
Smoking: Smoking is a risk factor for many types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer.
Poorly balanced diet: Some studies suggest that your risk of pancreatic cancer is higher if your diet is high in fat, low in fruits and vegetables and you consume a lot of alcohol. Some studies also suggest there may be an increased risk if you eat a lot of red meat, pork or processed meats.
Age over 55: Your risk of getting pancreatic cancer is higher if you are over 55 years old. Most people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed when they are over age 65.
Type 2 diabetes: If you have type 2 diabetes (the type that usually starts in adulthood), your risk of pancreatic cancer is greater. Researchers are not yet sure how diabetes and pancreatic cancer are linked. Learn more about type 2 diabetes.
Obesity: Overweight or obese people, or those who do not get much exercise, are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatitis: Having pancreatitis for many years increases your risk of pancreatic cancer.
Family history: If others in your family have had pancreatic cancer, your risk for getting it is higher. About 10 percent of people with pancreatic cancer inherited the tendency to develop this cancer. If you have inherited this tendency, lifestyle risks such as smoking, eating a high-fat diet and using cancer-causing chemicals increase your risk even more.
Working with chemicals: Exposure to some kinds of pesticides, dyes and chemicals used in metal refining may raise your risk of getting pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer Prevention
Some of these risk factors are out of your control, such as your family history. However, some are in your control. You can take steps to lower your risk of developing pancreatic cancer (and other cancers) by making healthy lifestyle choices. Learn more about pancreatic cancer prevention.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.