Pancreatic Cancer Risk Management & Treatment

Learn about options for pancreatic cancer screening, prevention and treatment.

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Hereditary Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Screening and Treatment

Pancreatic Cancer Risk

What is pancreatic cancer?

The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen that helps with digestion of food and controlling sugar levels in the blood. 

There are two main groups of pancreatic cancer based on the type of cells where the cancer developed. These cancers behave differently and are treated differently. 

  • The most common type of pancreatic cancers are called exocrine pancreatic cancers. This group includes pancreatic adenocarcinomas. These cancers tend to be very aggressive.
  • Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) are much less common. These cancers may be less aggressive and slower growing than pancreatic adenocarcinomas.

Who is at risk for pancreatic cancer?

Everyone is at risk for pancreatic cancer; the risk increases with age. 

Factors that affect pancreatic cancer risk include:

  • personal and family history of cancer
  • inherited mutations linked to pancreatic cancer risk
  • type 2 diabetes
  • personal history of chronic pancreatitis
  • lifestyle and habits including diet, weight, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption

Can pancreatic cancer be hereditary?

About 10% of people with pancreatic cancer have an inherited mutation linked to increased cancer risk. Inherited mutations in the genes below increase the risk for pancreatic cancer and can cause cancer to run in families. 

Exocrine Cancer
Neuroendocrine Tumors 

Other, rare inherited mutations may increase risk.

Risk Management and Treatment

Risk management

Pancreatic cancer is often detected only when it is very advanced and hard to treat. Some options for pancreatic cancer screening are available. Guidelines for screening vary by gene mutation and level of risk. Click on the button below to learn more about these guidelines. Speak with your healthcare provider to decide on a risk-management plan and schedule that is right for you.


People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer may have different treatment options based on cancer stage and the results of genetic testing and biomarker testing. Click on the button below to learn more about these treatment options. Speak with your healthcare provider to decide on a treatment plan that is right for you.

Last updated June 29, 2024