The cause of the majority of pancreatic cancer cases is unknown, but research studies have identified the following risk factors that may increase the likelihood that someone will develop pancreatic cancer.
Diabetes - Pancreatic cancer is more likely to occur in people who have long-standing diabetes (more than 5 years). This can also be a symptom.
Age - The chances of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are over the age of 60.
A family history of Pancreatic Cancer - If a person has two or more first-degree relatives (mother, father, sibling or child) who have had pancreatic cancer, or a first-degree relative who developed pancreatic cancer before the age of 50, you may have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Smoking - People who smoke cigarettes are two times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than people who have never smoked.
Obesity - Obese people have a 20 percent increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer when compared with people who are of normal weight.
Pancreatitis - Chronic pancreatitis indicates an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. It’s even higher in individuals with hereditary pancreatitis.
Heavy Alcohol use - Some research suggests a link between heavy alcohol use and pancreatic cancer. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer is higher in people who drink more than three alcoholic drinks daily compared to those who do not.
(Source: World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition)
The good news is that there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Alex McAfee is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in HPB services working across all four hospitals in the Belfast Trust.
In this video Alex shares her everyday tips for healthy living.