Familial pancreatic cancer risk: a population-based study in Utah



Pancreas adenocarcinoma (PC) has an undefined hereditary component. We quantified the familial risk of PC among relatives of patients diagnosed with PC and stratified it based on anatomic location of PC and age and sex of the proband.


This is a retrospective, population-based, case–control study of PC diagnosed in Utah between 1980 and 2011. The Utah population database and cancer registry were used to identify index patients with PC. The risk of PC in first-degree relatives (FDRs), second-degree relatives (SDRs), and first cousins (FCs) of probands was compared with randomly selected sex- and age-matched population controls.


A total of 4,095 patients and 40,933 controls were identified. The relative risk (RR) of PC was 1.76 (95% CI 1.35–2.29) in FDRs, 1.42 (95% CI 1.18–1.7) in SDRs and 1.08 (95% CI 0.95–1.23) in FCs of probands compared to relatives of PC-free controls. The RR were elevated in FDRs (1.96, 95% CI 1.45–2.65), SDRs (1.54, 95% CI 1.19–1.98) and FCs (1.18, 95% CI 1.0–1.64) of female probands. Among probands diagnosed as < 65 years, RR was 2.12 (95% CI 1.37–3.28) in FDRs, 1.94 (95% CI 1.44–2.62) in SDRs, and 1.28 (95% CI 1.0–1.64) in FCs. Overall, the RR for PC was elevated in FDRs regardless of the anatomic location of PC.


There is an increased risk of PC in FDR and more distant relatives of patients with PC. Relatives of female patients with PC and patients diagnosed at age < 65 years are at a significantly increased risk of PC.

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Pancreas adenocarcinoma


Utah cancer registry


Utah population database


First-degree relative (parent, child, sibling)


Second-degree relative (aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, grandparent/grandchild)


First cousin


Relative risk


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The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, American College of Gastroenterology, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. The funding sources did not play a role in the design, conduct or reporting of the study or in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication. Support for this project was provided by NCI grants P01-CA073992 (RWB), R01-CA040641 (RWB), an Endoscopic Research Award from the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (NJS) and a Junior Faculty Career Development Award from the American College of Gastroenterology (NJS). Partial support for the Utah Population Database and this project was provided by the Huntsman Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant P30CA042014 from the National Cancer institute and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. Support for the Utah Cancer Registry is provided by Contract #HHSN 261201000026C from the National Cancer Institute with additional support from the Utah Department of Health and the University of Utah.

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Drs. Samadder and Curtin had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analyses. Study concept and design: RWB, KC, NJS; acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data: GM, KS, DK, KC, JW, RP, KB, LP, RWB, NJS; drafting of the manuscript: DK, KC, and NJS; critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: DK, GM, KC, KS, HS, DA, DF, RP, RWB; statistical analysis: JW, KC, LP; obtained funding: NJS and RWB.

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Correspondence to N. Jewel Samadder.

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NJS is a consultant for Cook Medical, Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals and Janssen Research and Development. No other authors have a conflict of interest to disclose.

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Kohli, D.R., Smith, K.R., Wong, J. et al. Familial pancreatic cancer risk: a population-based study in Utah. J Gastroenterol 54, 1106–1112 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00535-019-01597-3

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  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Familial
  • Hereditary cancer