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Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Dec;104(12):3034-41. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.466. Epub 2009 Aug 18.

Risk factors for sporadic pancreatic endocrine tumors: a case-control study of prospectively evaluated patients.

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  • 1Digestive and Liver Disease Unit, II Medical School, University La Sapienza, S Andrea Hospital, Rome, Italy.



Pancreatic endocrine tumors (PETs) are heterogeneous tumors with increasing prevalence. Little is known about the molecular pathogenesis and risk factors for the occurrence of sporadic PETs. The aim of this study was to identify the risk factors associated with the occurrence of sporadic PETs.


A case-control study comprising 162 sporadic PETs and 648 controls was undertaken. Subjects were interviewed using a specific questionnaire on demographics and potential risk factors, including smoking, alcohol, height, weight, medical history, and family history of cancer. A multiple hierarchical logistic regression analysis was performed with a stepwise variable- selection procedure.


A first-degree family history of any cancer was a significant risk factor (odds ratio (OR) 2.2; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.5-3.2). Among the different cancer sites, first-degree family history of pancreatic adenocarcinoma was more frequent in PETs than in controls (4.3 vs. 1.2%; P=0.01). A high alcohol intake (OR 4.8; 95% CI: 2.4-9.5), history of chronic pancreatitis (CP) (OR 8.6; 95% CI: 1.4-51), and recent-onset diabetes (OR 40.1; 95% CI: 4.8-328.9) were all independent risk factors. The history of diabetes was also associated with metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis.


This case-control study identified family history of any cancer (and to a less extent of pancreatic adenocarcinoma), CP, high alcohol intake, and recent-onset diabetes as risk factors for PET, thus suggesting a possible partial overlap with risk factors for exocrine pancreatic carcinogenesis.

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