With a five-year survival rate that’s already less than 10 percent, pancreatic cancer is considered among the deadliest forms of this disease known to man. For those who smoke, a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer may pose an even higher mortality risk, researchers say.

A recent study that looked into the links between smoking and pancreatic cancer death risks revealed very disturbing findings. Smokers, researchers say, witnessed a 40 percent reduction in survival likelihood versus their counterparts who had never smoked.

To arrive at their findings, researchers dove into data related to smoking status and more than 1,000 pancreatic cancer patients from the United States. Researchers say the data showed that smokers had a 37 percent increased risk of death overall. The driving factor behind the mortality rate, researchers believe, is partially attributed to high levels of cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine. Researchers noted there was no reduction in survival rate for former smokers, which means quitting may make a big difference on this front.

Pancreatic cancer is expected to strike an estimated 53,000 Americans in the coming year. About 43,000 people die from this causation each year in the United States. The disease has no widely available early screening tool and is known to be highly resistant to standard forms of therapy. Considering that most cases are diagnosed in later stages, the overall survival rate for pancreatic cancer is extremely low. Researchers, however, say that quitting smoking or avoiding it all together could have an impact on an individual patient’s outcome should this disease develop.

Pancreatic cancer is associated with a long list of risk factors, some changeable and some not. Smoking happens to be one of the risks that people can eliminate. New onset diabetes, obesity, chronic pancreatitis and family history may also elevate risks. People who are concerned about pancreatic cancer are urged to talk to their doctors. If smoking is a concern, healthcare providers can assist with cessation advice.