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Strategies for Preventing Pancreatic Cancer at Dignity Health


Although rare, pancreatic cancer spreads rapidly and is difficult to treat. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing the disease. To learn about your risk and get help creating a strategy for pancreatic cancer prevention in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor near you today. Our cancer care teams have the experience you need to treat all types of gastrointestinal cancers.

Pancreatic Cancer Causes & Risk Factors

The cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown. However, some things may increase your risk. Risk factors include:

  • Tobacco use. About one third of pancreatic cancers are linked to cigarette smoking. Cigar smoking and using smokeless tobacco also increase your risk.
  • Age. Most cases of pancreatic cancer occur in people older than 60.
  • Male gender. Men are 30 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women.
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer. You are more likely to develop the disease if someone in your family has had it.
  • Being overweight. Pancreatic cancer is 20 percent more likely in people who are obese.
  • African American race. Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in African Americans more often than any other racial or ethnic group.
  • Genetics. About one in 10 pancreatic cancers are related to mutations in genes.
  • Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions can increase your risk, including diabetes, liver cirrhosis, chronic pancreatitis, and stomach conditions.

Pancreatic Cancer: Reducing Your Risk

Because health experts don’t fully understand how it develops, there is no sure way to prevent pancreatic cancer. However, you may be able to reduce your risk by addressing the factors you can control:

  • Do not use tobacco. This includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco.
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Even in people who are not obese, excess weight around the waistline can be a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
  • Treat other medical conditions, including gastrointestinal conditions such as stomach ulcers.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Heavy drinking (more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men) increases the risk of cirrhosis, which is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

The cancer experts at Dignity Health can help if you’re at risk for pancreatic cancer in the Bay Area. Find a Doctor today.

Dignity Health provides patients with strategies for the prevention of pancreatic cancer in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.