Chronic Pancreatitis: Relation to Acute Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Cancer

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G. UOMO and P.G. RABITTI

Ann. Ital. Chir., LXXI, 1, 2000

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The relationship between chronic pancreatitis (CP) and other pancreatic diseases, such as acute pancreatitis (AP) and pancreatic cancer (PK), remains a fairly debated question. The progression from alcoholic AP to CP is controversial, and some long-term epidemiological studies suggest that alcoholic CP might be the result of recurrent alcoholic AP (necrosisfibrosis sequence) and a subgroup of alcoholics may present recurrent AP without progression to CP. Other predisposing factors (genetic, nutritional, environmental) seems to be important in inducing different outcomes of pancreatic damage due to alcohol. However, recurrent episodes of AP are clearly involved in pathophysiology of CP in patients with hereditary pancreatitis. A relationship between CP and subsequent PK development has long been suspected, but we actually don’t know whether this association is direct or is the result of confounding factors, such as alcohol intake or cigarette smoking. Many issues should be considered as indicators of a causal association, and several of them are not fulfilled Nonetheless, epidemiological studies (case-control or cohort studies) showed that the risk of PK is increased in patients with CP; the risk is significantly higher in tropical calcifying CP and hereditary pancreatitis. Studies on growth factors, oncogenes, tumor-suppressor genes, and angiogenesis suggest that the sequence PC – KP is plausible from the biological standpoint.