Screening of high-risk families for pancreatic cancer

Pancreatology. 2009;9(3):215-22. doi: 10.1159/000210262. Epub 2009 Apr 7.


Purpose of review: To discuss how to recognise and manage high-risk individuals.

Recent findings: Publication of initial results of screening for pancreatic cancer from US centres. Several masses and premalignant lesions have been detected, but the detection of the first pancreatic cancer through an organised study of screening has yet to be published. There has been progress in risk stratification; the role of diabetes in predisposing for cancer has been characterised and molecular modalities have been published which could be used in conjunction with imaging in a screening programme. A mutation in the palladin gene was found to segregate with the disease in a family with a clear predisposition for pancreatic cancer, though this has yet to be found in other such kindreds.

Summary: Significant challenges remain to be solved in screening for early pancreatic cancer. Risk stratification needs to be improved and high-risk patients included in research-based screening programmes. It will be impossible to confirm that screening can detect cancers early enough for curative treatment until the results of these prospective studies become available.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CA-19-9 Antigen / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Family
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Precancerous Conditions / epidemiology
  • Precancerous Conditions / genetics
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Syndrome


  • CA-19-9 Antigen