What Causes Pancreatic Cancer?
About one in 76 people will develop pancreatic cancer. As with many types of cancer, the causes of pancreatic cancer are simply not known. Although certain pancreatic cancer risk factors have been identified, there is no complete understanding of the disease.
Pancreatic cancer develops when a cell in the pancreas acquires damage to its DNA that causes it to behave and multiply abnormally (no one knows exactly how this process happens). A single cancer cell grows and divides rapidly, becoming a tumor that does not respect normal boundaries in the body. Eventually, cells from the tumor can travel elsewhere in the body (metastasize) through the blood or lymphatic system.
Some of these mutations happen randomly. Others occur in response to things we do or experience in the environment. Some may be inherited.
Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors
Though the underlying causes of pancreatic cancer are still not understood, certain risk factors for pancreatic cancer have been identified. These factors are present more often in people who get pancreatic cancer than in people who don’t.
There are multiple pancreatic risk factors, although most are only weakly associated with pancreatic cancer. Many people with pancreatic cancer don’t have any one risk factor: