Screening for Pancreatic Cancer

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Screening for Pancreatic Cancer

05 Nov 2015 by The Rio Grande Cancer Foundation

Cancer screening exams are important medical tests done when you’re at risk but don’t have symptoms. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for successful treatment are highest.

Who should be screened for pancreatic cancer?

Thanks to advances in genetics and improved diagnostic tools, physicians can now offer sophisticated screening services to individuals who are at risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Screening is important for these patients because pancreatic cancer often does not produce symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage, when the cancer is difficult to treat. Through close monitoring, doctors can identify early signs of cancer -- and more lives will be saved through effective care when the cancer is at a "treatable" stage.

Not everyone should be screened for pancreatic cancer. Screening makes sense for people who are at risk for the disease, typically due to new abnormalities detected on an imaging study (e.g. cyst on a CT scan), hereditary factors or genetic syndromes that increase the likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer. The list below can help you determine if you and your family may benefit from an evaluation.


Factors that Increase the Risk for Pancreatic Cancer:

  • Pancreatic cysts. There are many types of benign cysts and pseudocysts, as well as precancerous cysts, such as intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) or mucinous cystic neoplasm (MCN). While most pancreatic cysts will not cause pancreatic cancer, it's important to be evaluated by a pancreatic expert to determine the cyst type and best treatment options
  • Two or more first-degree relatives (parents, sibling, child) with pancreatic cancer
  • One first-degree relative diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at an early age (under the age of 50)
  • Two or more second-degree relatives (grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, half-sibling) with pancreatic cancer, one of whom developed it at an early age
  • Patients above the age of 50 who have new onset diabetes are at higher risk of having pancreatic cancer. Up to 85 percent of people with pancreatic cancer have diabetes or hyperglycemia, which frequently manifests as early as two to three years before the diagnosis of cancer is made. Patients with new onset diabetes have a five- to eight-fold increased risk of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer within one to three years of developing diabetes.
  • History of a genetic syndrome associated with pancreatic cancer

Tools To Use

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