Dr. Vivek Sukumar

Dr. Vivek Sukumar

Surgical Oncologist

The Main Causes of Pancreatic Cancer

Today, we delve into a topic that is both serious and significant – pancreatic cancer. Specifically, we aim to address the question many of you have been asking: “What is the main cause of pancreatic cancer?”

It’s crucial to understand the factors contributing to this disease as it equips us better for prevention, early detection, and effective treatment strategies.

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer: A Brief Overview

Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells in our pancreas, an essential organ located behind the stomach, begin to multiply uncontrollably, forming a mass known as a tumor. There are two primary types of pancreatic cancer

Exocrine tumors, which are the most common type affecting parts of the pancreas that produce digestive enzymes, and endocrine tumors, which impact the parts of the pancreas that produce hormones like insulin. Symptoms often include jaundice, weight loss, and abdominal pain, among others

Genetics and Familial Factors

One significant aspect of pancreatic cancer lies in our genes. Certain inherited gene mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase the risk of developing this disease. Familial pancreatic cancer, where two or more first-degree relatives have had the disease, also heightens risk levels.

Lifestyle and Environmental Risk Factors

Lifestyle choices can significantly influence the risk of pancreatic cancer. For instance, smoking doubles the likelihood of developing this disease. Alcohol consumption, particularly when it leads to chronic pancreatitis, is another substantial factor. A poor diet, specifically one high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables, can also contribute to risk levels.

Environmental factors, including exposure to certain chemicals and toxins, may also play a part, although more research is needed to fully understand these connections2.

Chronic Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Cancer

Chronic pancreatitis, which is long-standing inflammation of the pancreas, can significantly increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Often caused by excessive alcohol consumption, this condition can lead to cell damage and potentially, cancer.

Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer: A Complex Relationship

There exists a complex relationship between diabetes and pancreatic cancer. While long-standing diabetes can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, new-onset diabetes can sometimes be an early symptom of pancreatic cancer disease, highlighting the intricate interplay between these conditions.

Age, Gender, and Pancreatic Cancer

The incidence of pancreatic cancer increases with age, with most diagnoses occurring in people over the age of 65. Men also tend to have a slightly higher risk than women, although the reasons for this difference are not fully understood.

Future Directions: Other Potential Risk Factors

Other potential risk factors, such as certain dietary components, infections, and even gut bacteria, are currently under investigation2. More research is needed to validate these associations further.


Understanding the main causes of pancreatic cancer is vital for prevention, early detection, and treatment of pancreatic cancer . While some factors, such as genetics and age, are beyond our control, lifestyle modifications can significantly reduce our risk.

At SSO Cancer Hospital, Mumbai, we’re dedicated to providing the highest standard of care for individuals dealing with pancreatic cancer. Our team of experienced oncologists is here to guide you through every step of your journey. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Remember, awareness and early detection are critical in combating this disease.

We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights and encouraged you to take proactive steps towards your health. Stay informed, stay healthy, and remember, you’re not alone in this fight.