You have that backwards; chronic pancreatitis will increase the risk of cancer!

This means that if you have chronic pancreatitis, you probably don’t have cancer, but you DO carry the risk of it down the road—to your pancreas.

“The majority of cases of chronic pancreatitis are due to the following disorders,” says Franjo Vladic, MD, a board certified gastroenterologist with Center for Digestive Health and Endoscopy Center in Ohio.

  • Alcohol abuse (limit your drinking to one four-ounce glass a day)
  • Genetic causes (mutations in the cystic fibrosis gene, hereditary pancreatitis). If you have cystic fibrosis, you will have known this since your earliest childhood memories.
  • Ductal obstruction (i.e., trauma, pseudocysts, stones, tumors, possibly pancreas divisum)
  • Tropical pancreatitis
  • Systemic (body-wide) disease such as lupus erythematosus, hypertriglyceridemia, possibly hyperparathyroidism
  • Autoimmune pancreatitis (the body “thinks” that the pancreas is a foreign invader and attacks it)
  • Idiopathic pancreatitis (no known cause)

Dr. Vladic says, “Patients with chronic pancreatitis are at increased risk for pancreatic cancer due to the presence of chronic pancreatic inflammation.”

Chronic inflammation of the pancreas, however, does not raise the risk of colon cancer. If you’re 50 and over and have never had a colonoscopy, it’s time to get one.

A colonoscopy will screen for colon cancer. If you’re on edge about this invasive procedure, though, you should at least conduct a simple screening test at home via Cologuard.

cologuard

Cologuard is easy in that you collect a sample of your bowel movement and mail it off.

Cologuard uses state of the art DNA technology to identify any abnormal cells in your sample. You can get a prescription for Cologuard from your physician.

Keep in mind that Cologuard is not a diagnostic tool; it’s a screening tool. You can breathe a sign of relief if Cologuard does not detect any abnormal cells.

But if Cologuard does detect any, your doctor will likely urge you to have a colonoscopy. Chronic pancreatitis is not linked to colon cancer.

Dr. Vladic’s special interests include acid reflux, colitis, colon cancer, GERD, heartburn, IBS, liver disease, obesity, pancreatitis and peptic ulcer, among many others.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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Top image: Shutterstock/George Rudy