Although the incidence of pancreatic cancer in women is rising globally, the survival rate is meagre. Although there has been a recent increase in the incidence of pancreatic cancer in women, there is no clear link between reproductive factors and the occurrence of this disease. Recent research has shown a weak but consistent association between the incidence of pancreatic cancer in women and the presence of certain hormones produced by the reproductive system.
Researchers have identified several genes that can contribute to the development of pancreatic cancer in women. Three of these are highly prevalent in the population and are associated with a higher risk of developing the disease. These genes are found in the DNA repair gene family. Molecular testing of pancreatic cancer cases will help confirm the findings. However, patients must be tested for these genes to determine whether they have other risk factors.
Previous studies have suggested that exogenous hormone use and reproductive factors are associated with a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. However, epidemiological findings have been inconsistent. In the California Teachers Study, which enrolled 158,298 women between the ages of 40 and 69, the associations between female steroid hormone use and pancreatic cancer were examined using a multivariable Cox proportional hazard model.
One study found an association between maternal smoking and pancreatic cancer in women but not between paternal smoking. Although the study found a higher risk among mothers who smoked, the association was not statistically significant among children of smokers. This may be because women exposed to both parents' smoking had similar risks. Similarly, female nurses who did not smoke were not more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those whose mothers never smoked.
Although the risk of pancreatic cancer in men is lower than in women, studies show that certain dietary habits may increase the risk. Specifically, frequent consumption of carbohydrates, mainly starch, was associated with a greater risk of pancreatic cancer in men. In addition, women who consumed more carbohydrates were less likely to develop diabetes. However, this relationship was not consistent in both sexes.
When cancer cells in the pancreas multiply abnormally, they can form tumours. The tumours are classified into four stages: Stage 0 for pre-cancerous pancreatic cancer and Stage 2 for pancreatic cancer that has not yet spread to nearby lymph nodes and other organs. Patients diagnosed with stage 2 have a lower survival rate than those with stage 1 pancreatic cancer, with most cases curable with surgery.