Early detection of pancreatic cancer

Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Jul;5(7):698-710. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(19)30416-9. Epub 2020 Mar 2.


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is most frequently detected at an advanced stage. Such late detection restricts treatment options and contributes to a dismal 5-year survival rate of 3-15%. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is relatively uncommon and screening of the asymptomatic adult population is not feasible or recommended with current modalities. However, screening of individuals in high-risk groups is recommended. Here, we review groups at high risk for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, including individuals with inherited predisposition and patients with pancreatic cystic lesions. We discuss studies aimed at finding ways of identifying pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma in high-risk groups, such as among individuals with new-onset diabetes mellitus and people attending primary and secondary care practices with symptoms that suggest this cancer. We review early detection biomarkers, explore the potential of using social media for detection, appraise prediction models developed using electronic health records and research data, and examine the application of artificial intelligence to medical imaging for the purposes of early detection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / diagnosis*
  • Deep Learning
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diagnostic Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / trends
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Electronic Health Records / instrumentation
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Cyst / genetics
  • Pancreatic Cyst / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Media / instrumentation


  • Biomarkers, Tumor