Fatty Pancreas: An Underappreciated Intersection of the Metabolic Profile and Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although the prevalence of pancreatic cancer is increasing, treatment strategies remain limited, and success is rare. A growing body of evidence links pancreatic cancer to pre-existing metabolic disorders, including, but not limited to, type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. An infrequently described finding, fatty pancreas, initially described in the context of obesity in the early 20th century, appears to be at the crossroads of type 2 diabetes and obesity on the one hand, and the development of pancreatic cancer on the other. Similarly, other conditions of the pancreas, such as intrapancreatic mucinous neoplasms, also seem to be related to diabetes while increasing the subsequent risk of pancreatic cancer. In this review, the author explores the diagnostic criteria for, and prevalence of, fatty pancreas and the potential link to other pancreatic conditions, including pancreatic cancer. Diagnostic limitations, and areas of controversy are also addressed, as are potential therapeutic approaches to fatty pancreas intended to reduce the subsequent risk of pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-324
Number of pages8
JournalMetabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • fatty pancreas
  • intrapancreatic mucinous neoplasm
  • metabolic syndrome
  • pancreatic cancer
  • pancreatic cysts
  • type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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