Is pancreatic cancer on the rise?

During my first 45 years of practice, I saw only three or four cases of pancreatic cancer. But since 2000, I have seen six cases. All the patients were older than 60, and all had been on statins for varying lengths of time (the only common threads). Do any data support this trend?
—W.S. Middleton, MD, Monroe, Mich.

The incidence of pancreatic cancer has remained relatively stable in the United States over the past 25 years, according to surveillance, epidemiology and end results (SEER) data. However, the proportion of patients presenting with regional spread rather than localized disease has increased during this time. The only proven nongenetic risk factor for this cancer appears to be cigarette smoking. Statins may actually decrease the risk for this malignancy (Pancreas. 2007;34:260-265).
—Michael J. Flamm, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York City (117-11)

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