Diagnostic Yield From Screening Asymptomatic Individuals at High Risk for Pancreatic Cancer: A Meta-analysis of Cohort Studies

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Jan;17(1):41-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2018.04.065. Epub 2018 Jun 30.


Background & aims: There have been few studies of abdominal imaging screening of individuals at high risk for pancreatic cancer (based on family history or genetic variants). We performed a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies to determine the diagnostic yield and outcomes of abdominal imaging screening for asymptomatic individuals at high risk.

Methods: Through a systematic review of multiple electronic databases and conference proceedings through July 2017, we identified prospective cohort studies (>20 patients) of asymptomatic adults determined to be at high-risk of pancreatic cancer (lifetime risk >5%, including specific genetic-associated conditions) who were screened by endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect pancreatic lesions. Our primary outcome was identification of high-risk pancreatic lesions (high-grade pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia, high-grade dysplasia, or adenocarcinoma) at initial screening, and overall incidence during follow up. Summary estimates were reported as incidence rates per 100 patient-years.

Results: We identified 19 studies comprising 7085 individuals at high risk for pancreatic cancer; of these, 1660 patients were evaluated by EUS and/or MRI. Fifty-nine high-risk lesions were identified (43 adenocarcinomas: 28 during the initial exam and 15 during follow-up surveillance) and 257 patients underwent pancreatic surgery. Based on our meta-analysis, the overall diagnostic yield screening for high-risk pancreatic lesions was 0.74 (95% CI, 0.33-1.14), with moderate heterogeneity among studies. The number needed to screen to identify 1 patient with a high-risk lesion was 135 (95% CI, 88-303). The diagnostic yield was similar for patients with different genetic features that increased risk, and whether patients were screened by EUS or MRI.

Conclusions: Based on meta-analysis, 135 patients at high-risk for pancreatic cancer must be screened to identify 1 patient with a high-risk pancreatic lesion. Further studies are needed to determine whether screening reduces mortality and is cost effectiveness for individuals at high-risk of pancreatic cancer.

Keywords: Early Detection; PanIN; Pancreas; Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome; Surveillance; Tumor.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asymptomatic Diseases*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Optical Imaging / methods*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Young Adult