Cases of Deadly Pancreatic Cancer on the Rise in the US

By Reuters Staff

October 26, 2021

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study finds that cases of pancreatic cancer increased among both men and women between 2000 and 2018, particularly among women 15 to 34 years of age, and it's not clear why.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death with a five-year survival rate of only about 10%, Dr. Srinivas Gaddam of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and colleagues note in a paper published in JAMA to coincide with a presentation at the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) annual meeting.

The researchers did a time trend analysis of pancreatic cancer incidence rates by age and gender using the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database from the National Cancer Institute.

From 2000 to 2018, more than 283,000 pancreatic cancer cases were reported (50% women).

Pancreatic cancer cases rose significantly in women and men, with an average annual percent change (AAPC) of 0.78% and 0.90%, respectively (both P<0.001), with only a borderline-significant between-group difference (0.12%; P=0.06), the researchers report.

However, significant variations in trends were evident when looking at different age groups.

Among adults aged 55 and older, the AAPC in pancreatic cancer incidence increased at a greater rate in men than women (0.92% vs. 0.62%; P<0.001).

However, among adults younger than 55, a greater relative increase in pancreatic cancer incidence was observed among women than men (1.93% vs. 0.77%; P=0.002) - including women aged 35 to 54 (1.56% vs. 0.65%; P=0.004) and especially among women aged 15 to 34 (7.68% vs. 4.20%; P=0.01).

The authors say the reason for the relative increasing trend among younger women is unclear, but may suggest a sex-based disproportional exposure to known or unknown risk factors.

"The observed trend can offer clues to researchers to gain better insight into pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer," they conclude.

"A limitation of this study is the small number of patients with pancreatic cancer who were younger than aged 55 years. In addition, limited covariates and coding reliability have been noted in the SEER database. Future studies should validate these findings in other large population-based cohorts," they write.

SOURCE: JAMA, online October 24, 2021.