STEP 1: Prevention and early detection


The two most effective prevention strategies are avoiding tobacco smoking and maintaining a normal body weight.

Risk factors

  • Tobacco smoking (most established risk factor; risk increases significantly with greater intensity and duration)
  • Cystic lesions of the pancreas
  • Obesity
  • Increased consumption of red meat and processed meat
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Older age
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Longstanding type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Male gender
  • Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity
  • Chronic alcohol consumption
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Stomach infections
  • Heavy occupational exposure to certain pesticides, dyes and chemicals used in metal refining
  • Certain hereditary conditions

Early detection

People with a strong family history of pancreatic cancer and related hereditary conditions should be referred to a familial cancer service, geneticist or oncologist for possible genetic testing.

Potential monitoring for pancreatic cancer in high-risk populations includes endoscopic ultrasound for small pancreatic head tumours and blood tests (CA 19-9, carcinoembryonic antigen and liver biochemistry).


Population screening is not recommended for pancreatic cancer in Australia.