Pancreatic cancer rates rising faster in females than in males, confirms study

  • The investigators have proposed that tumour type and location may be a potential explanation
  • Researchers say that both women and men experience an increase in pancreatic cancer rates
  • Need to raise awareness to reduce smoking, alcohol use besides promote daily exercise

Younger women are more likely than same-age men to develop pancreatic cancer, according to a comprehensive national survey conducted by researchers from Cedars-Sinai Cancer Center.

“We can tell that the rate of pancreatic cancer among women is rising rapidly, which calls attention to the need for further research in this area,” said Srinivas Gaddam, MD, associate director of Pancreatic Biliary Research at Cedars-Sinai and senior researcher of the study. “There’s need to understand these trends, and to make changes today so this doesn’t affect women disproportionately in the future,” said Gaddam.

Researchers discovered that both women and men were experiencing an increase in pancreatic cancer rates. The investigators have proposed that tumour type and location may be a potential explanation.

The pancreas, located just behind the stomach, secretes enzymes and hormones that help the body digest food and process sugars, according to Cedars-Sinai website. “Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers, accounting for 3% of all cancer deaths in the U.S., and is more common among men than women,” reported the portal.

The majority of men than women are affected by pancreatic cancer, which has the highest death rate of all major cancers and accounts for 3% of all cancer deaths in the U.S, according to the study. In this study, investigators combed through data on patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer between 2001 and 2018 from the National Program of Cancer Registries (NCPR) database, which represents approximately 64.5% of the U.S. population.

While Gaddam said it is important for future studies to examine the cause of these trends, he stressed that at this point the increase is small and his findings shouldn’t be cause for alarm.

“The data shows us a small increase in risk of pancreatic cancer,” he said. “And that awareness might refocus people on the need to stop smoking, reduce alcohol use, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and manage their weight. These lifestyle changes all help decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer.”

The researchers discovered that the prevalence of pancreatic head adenocarcinoma, a particularly deadly and aggressive type of tumour located at the head of the pancreas, appears to be rising.

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