There are some factors that increase your risk of developing a neuroendocrine tumour (NET). This includes some medical conditions. But having a risk factor doesn't mean that you will definitely develop a NET of the pancreas.
These risk factors are for all types of pancreatic NETs.
MEN1 is a rare inherited condition in which 2 or more tumours develop in the pancreas, parathyroid gland and pituitary gland. Tumours can also develop in the bowel, stomach and adrenal glands. The tumours can be benign or malignant (a cancer).
Studies have shown that people who have MEN1 have a higher risk of developing pancreatic NETs. Up to 54 out of every 100 people (up to 54%) who have MEN1 develop a type of pancreatic NET.
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is caused by a change in the NF1 gene. The faulty gene is usually passed on from parents to their children.
Some researchers think this condition gives you a higher risk of developing different tumours. This includes a type of pancreatic NET called somatostatinoma.
VHL is a rare inherited condition caused by a change in the von Hippel-Lindau gene. It can affect different parts of the body. People who have this condition have an increased risk of developing different types of tumours, including pancreatic NETs.
Up to 12 out of 100 people (up to 12%) who have VHL, develop a pancreatic NET.
This is a rare inherited condition that causes tumours to develop in different parts of the body. Most tumours are benign (not cancer).
Researchers think that people who have tuberous sclerosis may have a higher risk of developing a pancreatic NET. But this is rare.
Other risk factors
Pancreatic NETs are more common in middle aged people. The average age of diagnosis is between 50 and 60 years old.
Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer. There is some evidence that smoking can also increase the risk of developing pancreatic NETs.
There is some evidence that suggests drinking heavily may increase the risk of pancreatic NETS.
The UK government guidelines advise both men and women to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
Diabetes is a disease that causes the blood sugar level to increase. There is some evidence that people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a pancreatic NET.
Researchers have found that your risk of developing a pancreatic NET might be higher if you have a close relative (such as a parent or sibling) who has had cancer.
Other possible causes
Stories about potential causes of cancer are often in the media. It isn’t always clear which ideas are supported by good evidence.
You might hear about possible causes we haven’t included here. This is because there is no evidence about them or because the evidence isn’t clear.