Pancreatic Cancer

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Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

Can pancreatic cancer be prevented?

There are no established guidelines for preventing pancreatic cancer. For now, the best approach is to avoid pancreatic cancer risk factors whenever possible.

Cigarette smoking is the most important avoidable risk factor for pancreatic cancer. It is responsible for 20% to 30% of pancreatic cancers. Tobacco use also increases the risk of many other cancers such as cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus, kidney, bladder, and some other organs. If you smoke and want help quitting, please talk to your doctor or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

Maintaining a healthy weight, eating well, and exercising are also important. The American Cancer Society recommends choosing foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods. This includes eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits every day. Choosing whole-grain breads, pastas, and cereals instead of refined grains, and eating fish, poultry, or beans instead of processed meat and red meat may also help lower your risk of cancer, as well as some other diseases. The full guidelines can be found in the American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention. Read it on our Web site or call us for a free copy.


Last Medical Review: 01/28/2013
Last Revised: 02/05/2014