Some people develop pancreatic cancer if they are born with a hereditary disorder. Germline mutations occur in the genetic material of every cell in a person's body. These mutations are passed from parent to child, while other types of congenital disabilities are acquired throughout a lifetime. Some hereditary cancer syndromes are linked to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. A few examples include ataxia-telangiectasia, a genetic disorder that leads to difficulty in coordinating movements and keeping balance.
In a recent study, researchers identified an abnormally high risk of pancreatic cancer among hereditary pancreatitis patients. The excess risk was observed in both sexes and across geographic regions. The absence of other types of tumors is also noteworthy. Unlike different types of pancreatitis, however, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer in hereditary pancreatitis patients was significantly higher than in other cases of chronic pancreatitis.
If you have a family history of the Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, you may be at increased risk for cancer of the intestines and pancreas. This autosomal dominant genetic syndrome is also associated with an increased risk of hamartomatous polyps in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). People with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome have a 93% lifetime cancer risk, even without any symptoms. This syndrome is most commonly accompanied by early intussusception and bowel obstruction.
Despite recent advances in genomic technology, pancreatic cancer remains a neglected hereditary disease. Although no single gene is responsible for the development of pancreatic cancer, the presence of one or both BRCA mutations can increase the risk of developing the disease. In addition, because these genes play significant roles in the homologous DNA repair pathway, they are substantial risk factors for several cancers.
STK11 gene mutation
In a recent study, the STK11 gene was associated with pancreatic cancer. Among 4446 tumors analyzed, 60 were found to have alterations. These patients had significantly shorter median survival and median time to progression. However, the association between STK11 gene mutation and pancreatic cancer was independent of other alterations. A similar study found that patients with a co-altered STK11 gene and KRAS gene had significantly shorter PFS and OS than those without the mutation.
Hepatitis B and C virus
One recent study linked the hepatitis B and C viruses to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Researchers at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center found that HBV infection was related to pancreatic cancer. In addition, patients undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer may face the risk of reactivating the virus. Pancreatic cancer is a severe disease that kills nearly 34,000 Americans each year. Currently, there are no known risk factors that can prevent it from occurring, so the only way to avoid it is to stay healthy and prevent infection with the virus.