Pancreatic cancer deaths are on the rise in the United States – and sometimes in the Nordic countries – a trend that may be partly due to a growing population, according to a significant study that followed Swedish women in their mid-60s.
Swedish women – who tend to have more the time to select good health care, such as health care for children – tend to die at a younger age than men. The study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden appears in the journal Diabetes Care Today.
The increased prevalence of the disease among men, however, suggests that risk factors for this is now changing – swiftly – among late-stage patients during a particularly vicious lifestyle of obesity, smoking and low-fat diet.
“It’s clear that the trend is different in the United States, but we still don’t know what to blame it on, ” says Dr. Kristina Lundsgaard, researcher at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, who led the study.
Lundsgaard says her team is now tracking the progress of surviving pancreatic cancer patients in Sweden since 2000, for the duration of the 20-year follow-up period. For this study, she and the two other study authors (Albert Coates of Uta Lund and Karin Olsson of Malmö) studied more than 5, 800 women who had ended up dying from pancreatic cancer between 2000 and 2017.
Overall, 94. 6 percent of the gastrointestinal tumors had been smaller than a micrometastatic stage by the end of the 20-year follow-up period. About 3. 5 percent of pancreatic tumors were micrometastatous (more than 5 micrometastases) and about 1. 1 percent were micrometastatic. In the presence of drugs or chemotherapy, the cancer rarely metastasized. Some 36 percent of ovarian tumors were micrometastatic and 10 percent were micrometastid. In addition, Western diet – defined as being high fruit, vegetable, and water plus some snacking – was not significantly associated with an elevated risk.
Morals most influential.
Thus, lipids and sugar are the most important risk factors for cancer long after treatment. Smoking has also been identified as a risk factor but evidence pointing to a dose-response to smoking is lacking.
The researchers write: “It is clear that obesity and poor lifestyle modulates income, having an impact on risk factors for pancreatic cancer and obesity, as well as on cancer risk factors. “
Professor Dr. Johanna Steinhorst of the University of Gothenburg agrees: “The age of the population and the relatively weak response to smoking suggests that people may be more vulnerable to developing cancer as they age. “
“Looking at those who survived and went on to die also highlights that survival is very important, ” she adds. The severe increase in pancreatic cancer over the past 10 years suggests that survival rates may have improved, both in Sweden and in general, she adds.