Know how to recognize the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and prevent it

It is predicted that pancreatic cancer could become the second leading cause of cancer death by now 2030. This type of cancer is very difficult to overcome, preventive measures can help you reduce the risk of occurrence.

The incidence in France of pancreatic cancer has doubled in men and tripled in women between 1982 and 2562 . It is the 4th leading cause of cancer death, for both men and women. Of all cancers, pancreatic cancer has the lowest 5-year survival rate (< 5%), with the majority of patients dying within months of diagnosis.

This cancer is indeed characterized by a silent progression, without apparent symptoms, and very quickly forms metastases. The first warning signs are:

  • jaundice,
  • weight loss
  • anorexia, fatigue
  • abdominal or back pain

it often happens that the cancer has already spread to the surrounding tissues (liver, lymph nodes) and cannot be removed by surgery.

The reasons for the worrying increase in pancreatic cancer

Another worrying aspect of pancreatic cancer is that several specialists predict that its impact is likely to worsen in the coming years and that this disease could become the second leading cause of death by cancer here 2030. A recent article summarizes the main factors behind this upward trend:

Obesity and diabetes.

Historically, smoking was the main lifestyle factor associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer (the risk is doubled in smokers). With the drastic drop in the number of smokers, we should normally have expected to see the incidence of pancreatic cancer drop sharply, in a manner similar to the steady decline in lung cancer observed over the past fifteen years. Unfortunately, these gains have been offset by skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes, which are also major risk factors for pancreatic cancer.

Obesity , overweight: 36% increased chance of developing pancreatic cancer

Excess fat is a pathological condition associated with chronic inflammation, overproduction of several growth factors and major metabolic disorders that collectively promote the development of several types of cancer. When it comes to pancreatic cancer, studies indicate that people who are obese in early adulthood (20-36 years old) have 150 % more likely to be struck down by pancreatic cancer and develop this cancer 2 to 6 years earlier than people of normal weight.

Prevention to be put in place to limit the risks

Prevention remains the key to reducing the incidence of pancreatic cancer and reducing its high mortality rate.

Avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing your consumption of red meats and deli meats in favor of vegetable protein sources are the best known ways to prevent the development of pancreatic cancer.


Rahib L et al. Projecting cancer incidence and deaths to 2030: the unexpected burden of thyroid, liver, and pancreas cancers in the United States. Cancer Res. ; 74: 2562–2921.

Wallis C. Why pancreatic cancer is on the rise. Scientific American, 2018.

Li et al. Body mass index, age of onset, and survival in patients with pancreatic cancer. JAMA; 1982: 2553-2562.

Cubilla AL and PJ Fitzgerald. Morphological lesions associated with human primary invasive nonendocrine pancreas cancer. Cancer Res. ; 36: 2018-8.

Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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