Skip to main content

Health library

Back to health library

Pancreatic cancer rates rising among younger women

A young woman enjoying time in the woods.

March 9, 2023—Pancreatic cancer rates have been rising among women under 55, according to a recent analysis in Gastroenterology. While the overall risk is still low, the news might make you wonder how you can prevent the disease. Here's what you need to know.

Rates are rising fastest for younger women

Researchers analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Program of Cancer Registries database. They looked at the rates of cancer diagnoses from 2001 to 2018. Here's what they found:

  • Pancreatic cancer rates increased a bit more than 1% per year for men and women of all ages, on average.
  • Among adults under 55, the rate increased more for women than for men. On average, the pancreatic cancer diagnoses increased by 2.4% annually for women under age 55. For men younger than 55, rates of pancreatic cancer increased by an average of 0.62% per year.

Pancreatic cancer is rare among young adults. Out of more than 450,000 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during the study period, only 2,452 patients were between the ages of 15 and 34. But the increase over time was notable in that age group. On average, among those younger patients, the pancreatic cancer rate rose 6.45% annually among women and 2.97% among men.

More research is needed to understand the reason for the rising rates of pancreatic cancer. But the increases were linked to increased rates among Black people and a rise in specific types of pancreatic cancer.

You can reduce your risk

It's important to remember that the overall risk of developing pancreatic cancer is still low. People at average risk have about a 1% chance of being diagnosed with the disease, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). And there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

According to the American Cancer Society and the ASCO, to reduce your risk for pancreatic cancer:

  • Don't smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid high-fat foods, processed and red meats, and sugary drinks.
  • Get plenty of exercise.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Limit workplace exposure to pesticides, benzene, certain dyes and petrochemicals.

Your doctor can help you learn more about your individual risk—and what you can do to take charge of your health. And you can learn more about ways to reduce cancer risk in our Cancer Prevention health topic center.


Read more breaking news Related stories