Frequently Asked Questions & CP Information

What is Chronic Pancreatitis?

"Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is a continuous inflammatory disease of the pancreas characterized by irreversible morphologic (structural) changes that typically cause pain and permanent loss of function. The first reports on this disease date back to the 18th century, yet the pathogenesis (mechanism of the disease) of chronic pancreatitis remains obscure." - Source

To simplify, CP is a a long term inflammation of the pancreas, causing an alteration of the organ and how it functions.

What are the signs and symptoms of CP?

  • Upper abdominal pain that radiates into the back. It may be aggravated by eating, especially foods high in fat.
  • Swollen and tender abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Weight loss, due to poor nutrient absorbtion


Chronic Pancreatitis is often very debilitating to those who experience it. The pain experience during the flare ups is often considered to be the worst pain experienced by the individual throughout their entire lives. Despite this fact, every person with CP has a different experience, and may have different signs and symptoms, and may need different treatment than others

What kind of impact does CP have?

Approximate US Estimates

Acute Pancreatitis:

  • Episodes: 275,000
  • Incident cases: 150,000 

Chronic Pancreatitis (based on definition) 

  • Incident cases: 20,000-30,000
  • Prevalent cases: 175,000-250,000 

Pancreatic cancer (2013):

  • Incident cases: 45,220
  • Deaths: 38,460


Both Chronic and Acute pancreatitis can impact the lives of both those with the disease, as well as those around them, and can have long lasting consequences on any person's lifestyle.

What are the causes of CP?

According to a 2009 NAPS2 study, the causes of chronic pancreatitis are as follows:

No of participants  All 539  Female  256   Male.....283


  • Alcohol    All 44.5%   Female 28.1% Male 59.4%
  • Idiopathic     All 28.6%   Female 35.2%      Male 22.6%
  • Genetic   All 8.7%   Female 12.5%  Male 5.3%
  • Obstructive    All 8.7%     Female 12.9%    Male 4.9%
  • Other     All 7.2%    Female 9.0%    Male 5.7%
  • Autoimmune    All 2.2%    Female 2.3%   Male 2.1%


There are many causes of Chronic Pancreatitis, some of which are not different from the causes of Acute Pancreatitis. However, 42% of the population with Chronic Pancreatitis are unaware of or unable to find the cause, going to show that CP is not only very impacting, but also difficult to predict

How does one get tested for CP?

Major Types of Testing

Physicians who take care of pancreatic diseases generally do 3 different types of testing.

  • Anatomic testing – including ERCP, CT, MRI/MRCP or EUS
  • Function testing – including direct testing, stool tests, blood tests
  • Genetic testing – including PRSS1, SPINK1 and CFTR
  • Nutrition – including weight, blood test for protein and vitamins, can also be a sign


More info on testing can be found by clicking here