Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with an increased risk of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, according to results of a case-control study published in JAMA Oncology.1

The current study was conducted to confirm results from a prior study, which suggested that PCOS was associated with a 3.4-fold increased risk of pancreatic cancer.2 

For the current study, researchers evaluated data from 446 women with pancreatic adenocarcinoma and 209 women with no personal history of cancer.1 The mean age at cancer diagnosis or enrollment was 63.8 years among patients with pancreatic cancer and 57.7 years among control individuals. Eighty-eight percent of patients in each group were White. 

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Diabetes was more common among cases than among control individuals (26% and 5%, respectively). Rates of hysterectomy were similar (22% and 23%, respectively), as were rates of oophorectomy (19% and 20%, respectively). A majority of patients in the case and control groups had undergone menopause (88% and 78%, respectively), but a minority had postmenopausal estrogen use (27% and 37%, respectively).

Overall, 49 patients with pancreatic cancer and 18 control individuals had PCOS. There was a significant association between the presence of PCOS and pancreatic cancer in an analysis adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, body mass index, and estrogen use (odds ratio [OR], 1.88; 95% CI, 1.02-3.46). Additional adjustment by presence of type 2 diabetes attenuated the risk slightly (OR, 1.78; 95% CI, 0.95-3.34).

“A diagnosis of PCOS was associated with a 1.9-fold higher risk of pancreatic cancer,” the researchers concluded. “Prospective studies are needed to examine underlying biologic mechanisms and confirm our findings.” 


1. Peeri NC, Landicino MV, Saldia CA, Kurtz RC, Rolston VS, Du M. Association between polycystic ovary syndrome and risk of pancreatic cancer. JAMA Oncol. Published online October 6, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2022.4540

2. Yin W, Falconer H, Yin L, Xu L, Ye W. Association between polycystic ovary syndrome and cancer risk. JAMA Oncol. Published online November 29, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.5188