No one knows the exact cause of this disease. Doctors can seldom explain why one person will get pancreatic cancer and another person will not. However, it is clear that this disease is not contagious.
Research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop pancreatic cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.
Examples of risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:
- Smoking cigarettes
- Having long-standing diabetes
- Having chronic pancreatitis
- Having certain hereditary conditions.
(Click Pancreatic Cancer Causes for more information.)
Possible symptoms include:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Pain in the upper or middle abdomen and back
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
These possible symptoms of pancreatic cancer are not sure signs of the disease. Other pancreatic diseases and health problems can also cause these symptoms. People with these symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible -- only a doctor can diagnose and treat the problem.
(Click Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms for more information.)