Categories: CancerOncology

Pancreatic Cancer: What Are the Probable Causes?

Cancer is a disease that involves uncontrolled growth and distribution of carcinogenic cells, having the potential of invading other parts of the body, leading to death. They may look the same as tumours, but the main difference is that tumours don’t spread while cancer does.

Cancer may take place in different parts of your body and named as per the location of occurrence. One of the cancer is Pancreatic cancer.

But the question is, what are the causes of pancreatic cancer? Let us dig in to see all the probable symptoms and causes of pancreatic cancer.


Pancreatic cancer occurs in the layer of pancreatic tissues which is located just behind the lower part of our stomach. The pancreas provides you with digestive enzymes and hormones to control blood sugar. The main fear is that it stays undetected without symptoms until it spreads to other organs of the body. Being one of the most dangerous cancers.

How Does Pancreatic Cancer Occur?

You may have this question running inside your mind: how does pancreatic cancer occur? The occurrence of pancreatic cancer takes place when a cell in your pancreas starts developing changes or mutations in their DNA. DNA is the instruction giver of the cell, which asks it to grow without any control. The growth forms a tumour when accumulated and still keeps on growing and spreading to the nearby blood vessels and organs, causing cancer to spread to different parts of the body.

Pancreatic cancer starts occurring in the duct lining cells of the pancreas. This category of cancer is termed as pancreatic exocrine cancer or pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Rarely, cancers also form in the cells that produce a hormone that is present in the pancreatic neuroendocrine cells. These categories of cancer are known as islet cell tumours, pancreatic endocrine cancer or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours.

Causes of Pancreatic Cancer

Reasons for pancreatic cancer are yet unclear, but doctors have acknowledged some elements that may upsurge the risk of such cancer, which includes smoking, consumption of alcohol and inherited genetic mutations. The details are as follows:

Inherited gene mutations

One inherits such a mutation from parents or ancestors, which increases the danger of pancreatic cancer. Sometimes it is found that the change in the gene may be caused due to some syndrome which may lead to pancreatic cancer, yet this type of syndrome not only causes cancer but also causes a lot of other health-related issues.

Acquired gene mutations

Most of the time, the gene mutation for cancer occurs after birth rather than being acquired by inheritance, making it one of the main etiology of pancreatic cancer. These acquired gene mutations are caused due to exposure to certain carcinogenic chemicals like tobacco, burnt plastic, Aerosol, etc. but most of the time, the reason behind the cause is unknown. Many a time, it is found that the reason is a random event occurring inside a cell without any foreign effects or causes.

The changes in DNA which are observed in sporadic or non-inherited cases are the same as compared to some other inherited causes for pancreatic cancers. For example, in some non-inherited cases of pancreatic cancer, it is found that there are some changes in the genes TP53 and P16 which is also common in some other inherited genetic syndromes. But also there are cases where the changes are in KRASS, DPC4 and BRAF genes which are non-inherited. Several other genetic changes take place in pancreatic cancers which are yet unknown, and the reasons for the changes are quite unclear.

Risk factors

There are several risk factors which also gives rise to pancreatic cancer, few of them are stated below:

  • Smoking – It is one of the major causes of cancer.
  • Diabetes– It is quite a common illness in the current times that affects the pancreas in a lot of different ways.
  • Pancreatitis –It is a chronic inflammation that takes place in the pancreas.
  • Family medical history – As mentioned above, it plays a key role in the mutation of genes. If anyone in your family has pancreatic cancer, it increases the risk.
  • Age – Another big factor for pancreatic cancer is age, as it most likely affects people who are above 50 years of age.

However, in the modern age of advanced medical science and cancer studies, there are several ways to cure and prevent pancreatic cancers. So don’t be afraid and if you have any alarming symptoms, it is always advised to get yourself properly checked by a physician at the earliest.

Dr. Saurabha Kumar | Consultant OncologyRadiation Oncology | Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra, Bangalore

Narayana Health

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