Pancreatic Cancer

+ -Text Size

Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

Can pancreatic cancer be prevented?

The cause of many pancreatic cancers is not known, so there is no sure way to prevent it. But there are some ways you might be able to reduce your risk of this disease.

Smoking is the most important avoidable risk factor for pancreatic cancer. It is responsible for 20% to 30% of pancreatic cancers. Quitting smoking helps lower risk. If you smoke and want help quitting, please talk to your doctor or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

Getting to and staying at a healthy weight might also help lower your risk. While the effects of getting physical activity and eating well on pancreatic cancer risk are not as clear, both of these can help you stay at a healthy weight. 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 at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits every day. Choose whole-grain breads, pastas, and cereals instead of refined grains, and eat fish, poultry, or beans instead of processed meat and red meat. For more, see the American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention.

Finally, avoiding workplace exposure to harmful substances such as certain pesticides and other chemicals may reduce your risk for pancreatic cancer.

Last Medical Review: 06/11/2014
Last Revised: 01/09/2015