Risk of Pancreatic Carcinoma in Tropical Calcifying Pancreatitis: An Epidemiologic Study

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SummaryTo assess the risk of pancreatic cancer in subjects with tropical calcifying pancreatitis (TCP), we have followed 185 patients with TCP from the Diabetes Research Center in Madras, India for an average of 4.5 years. The diagnosis of TCP was based upon longstanding epigastric pain, laboratory tests, presence of pancreatic calculi, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopan-creatography (ERCP) findings, and ultrasonography. During the follow-up period, 24 patients died from all causes, with 6 deaths (25%) from cancer of the pancreas. Three pancreatic cancers were biopsy positive. Average age at onset of pancreatic cancer was 45.6 * 7.3 years—considerably younger than for Western populations. When compared with the background pancreatic cancer rate, subjects with TCP appear to have a significantly increased risk of pancreatic cancer: relative risk = 100, 95% CI = 37–218. Even under the most stringent assumptions (restricting the analysis to biopsy-proven cases, assuming that the true background rate of pancreatic cancer in Madras resembles high-risk Western populations, assuming that tropical pancreatitis begins at birth) the risk is still elevated: relative risk = 5, 95% CI = 1.03-3-14.6. The exact mechanism linking various forms of pancreatitis to pancreatic cancer remains to be elucidated.

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