Pancreatic cancer: gradual rise, increasing relevance

Freddy Sitas, Rachel E Neale, Marianne F Weber and Qingwei Luo
Med J Aust 2015; 202 (8): 401-402. || doi: 10.5694/mja15.00137

Pancreatic cancer is likely to become one of the leading causes of cancer death in Australia

Pancreatic cancer is the 10th most frequently occurring cancer but the fifth most common cause of cancer death in Australia, as is also seen in other developed regions of the world.1 A gradual increase in incidence has been observed since the 1980s in almost all age groups in both sexes in Australia (Box 1).3 Increases have been attributed only to trends in smoking, which is considered causal,4 with local published data suggesting a lag of about 30 years between smoking trends and incidence.5 However, overweight and obesity may also have contributed, in part, to incidence trends.6

Please login with your free MJA account to view this article in full

  • Freddy Sitas1,2
  • Rachel E Neale3
  • Marianne F Weber1
  • Qingwei Luo1

  • 1 Cancer Council NSW, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD.



Rachel Neale is funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council fellowship (1060183).

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Forman D, Bray F, Brewster DH, et al. Cancer incidence in five continents. Vol. X (electronic version). Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2013. (accessed Feb 2015).
  • 2. Kim HJ, Fay MP, Feuer EJ, et al. Permutation tests for joinpoint regression with applications to cancer rates. Stat Med 2000; 19: 335-351.
  • 3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australian cancer incidence and mortality (ACIM) books. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra. (accessed Feb 2015).
  • 4. Secretan B, Straif K, Baan R, et al. WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group. A review of human carcinogens — Part E: tobacco, areca nut, alcohol, coal smoke, and salted fish. Lancet Oncol 2009; 10: 1033-1034.
  • 5. Adair T, Hoy D, Dettrick Z, et al. Tobacco consumption and pancreatic cancer mortality: what can we conclude from historical data in Australia? Eur J Public Health 2012; 22: 243-247.
  • 6. World Cancer Research Fund. Food, nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. Washington, DC: American Institute for Cancer Research, 2007.
  • 7. 6 Clarke DL, Clarke BA, Thomson SR, et al. The role of preoperative biopsy in pancreatic cancer. HPB (Oxford) 2004; 6: 144–153.
  • 8. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Cancer survival and prevalence in Australia: period estimates from 1982 to 2010. Canberra: AIHW, 2012. (AIHW Cat. No. CAN65.) (accessed Apr 2015).
  • 9. Howlader N, Noon AM, Krapcho M, et al. SEER cancer statistics review, 1975–2011. (Based on November 2013 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER webiste, April 2014.) (accessed Feb 2015).
  • 10. Sitas F, Gibberd A, Kahn C, et al. Cancer incidence and mortality in people aged less than 75 years: changes in Australia over the period 1987–2007. Cancer Epidemiol 2013; 37: 780-787.
  • 11. Rahib L, Smith BD, Aizenberg R, et al. Projecting cancer incidence and deaths to 2030: the unexpected burden of thyroid, liver, and pancreas cancers in the United States. Cancer Res 2014; 74: 2913-2921.
  • 12. Burmeister EA, O'Connell DL, Beesley VL, et al. Describing patterns of care in pancreatic cancer - a population-based study. Pancreas 2015. In press.
  • 13. Klein AP, Lindstrom S, Mendelsohn JB, et al. An absolute risk model to identify individuals at elevated risk for pancreatic cancer in the general population. PLOS One 2013; 8: e72311.
  • 14. Bilimoria KY, Bentrem DJ, Ko CY, et al. National failure to operate on early stage pancreatic cancer. Ann Surg 2007; 246: 173-180.
  • 15. Chang DK, Merrett ND, Biankin AV. Improving outcomes for operable pancreatic cancer: is access to safer surgery the problem? J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2008; 23: 1036-1045.
  • 16. Finks JF, Osborne NH, Birkmeyer JD. Trends in hospital volume and operative mortality for high-risk surgery. N Engl J Med 2011; 364: 2128-2137.
  • 17. Waddell N, Pajic M, Patch AM, et al. Whole genomes redefine the mutational landscape of pancreatic cancer. Nature 2015; 518: 495-501.
  • 18. Le DT, Wang-Gillam A, Picozzi V, et al. Safety and survival with GVAX pancreas prime and Listeria monocytogenes-expressing mesothelin (CRS-207) boost vaccines for metastatic pancreatic cancer. J Clin Oncol 2015; Jan 12. pii: JCO.2014.57.4244. [Epub ahead of print].


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Responses are now closed for this article.