• pancreatic neoplasms;
  • molecular epidemiology;
  • cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator;
  • disease-associated mutation



Mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene are common in white persons and are associated with pancreatic disease. The purpose of this case-control study was to determine whether CFTR mutations confer a higher risk of pancreatic cancer.


In a case-control study, the authors compared the rates of 39 common cystic fibrosis-associated CFTR mutations between 949 white patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma and 13,340 white controls from a clinical laboratory database for prenatal testing for CFTR mutations. The main outcome measure was the CFTR mutation frequency in patients and controls.


Overall, 50 (5.3%) of 949 patients with pancreatic cancer carried a common CFTR mutation versus 510 (3.8%) of 13,340 controls (odds ratio [OR], 1.40; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04-1.89; P = .027). Among patients who were younger when their disease was diagnosed (<60 years), the carrier frequency was higher than in controls (OR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.14-2.94; P = .011). In patient-only analyses, the presence of a mutation was associated with younger age (median 62 vs 67 years; P = .034). In subgroups, the difference was seen only among ever-smokers (60 vs 65 years, P = .028). Subsequent sequencing analysis of the CFTR gene detected 8 (16%) compound heterozygotes among the 50 patients initially detected to have 1 mutation.


Carrying a disease-associated mutation in CFTR is associated with a modest increase in risk for pancreatic cancer. Those affected appear to be diagnosed at a younger age, especially among smokers. Clinical evidence of antecedent pancreatitis was uncommon among both carriers and noncarriers of CFTR mutations. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.