In an effort to quantify the relationship between acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, Agarwal and colleagues reviewed inpatient and outpatient records for 495,504 patients who received care through the Veterans Health Administration from 2000 through 2007. The authors identified 5,720 patients who had one or more episodes of acute pancreatitis, 710 of whom subsequently had diagnoses of pancreatic cancer.
Median follow-up was 60 months for the entire cohort, 26 months for patients who developed pancreatic cancer, and 60 months for patients who did not develop pancreatic cancer.
The patient cohort was predominately male (89%). A third of the patients smoked, a fourth had a history of heavy alcohol use, and 3% had a history of gallstones.
The 710 patients included 86 who had one or more episodes of acute pancreatitis prior to cancer diagnosis. The authors found that 76 of the 86 patients had a least one episode of acute pancreatitis within 2 years of cancer diagnosis.
In 69 of the 76 cases, the preceding pancreatitis occurred within a year of pancreatic cancer diagnosis. In fewer than half of the cases (N=34), acute pancreatitis preceded pancreatic cancer diagnosis by 2 months or less.