Patient-reported burden of intensified surveillance and surgery in high-risk individuals under pancreatic cancer surveillance

Fam Cancer. 2020 Jul;19(3):247-258. doi: 10.1007/s10689-020-00171-8.


In high-risk individuals participating in a pancreatic cancer surveillance program, worrisome features warrant for intensified surveillance or, occasionally, surgery. Our objectives were to determine the patient-reported burden of intensified surveillance and/or surgery, and to assess post-operative quality of life and opinion of surgery. Participants in our pancreatic cancer surveillance program completed questionnaires including the Cancer Worry Scale (CWS) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). For individuals who underwent intensified surveillance, questionnaires before, during, and ≥ 3 weeks after were analyzed. In addition, subjects who underwent intensified surveillance in the past 3 years or underwent surgery at any time, were invited for an interview, that included the Short-Form 12 (SF-12). A total of 31 high-risk individuals were studied. During the intensified surveillance period, median CWS scores were higher (14, IQR 7), as compared to before (12, IQR 9, P = 0.007) and after (11, IQR 7, P = 0.014), but eventually returned back to baseline (P = 0.823). Median HADS scores were low: 5 (IQR 6) for anxiety and 3 (IQR 5) for depression, and they were unaffected by the intensified surveillance period. Of the 10 operated patients, 1 (10%) developed diabetes and 7 (70%) pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. The interviews yielded median quality-of-life scores comparable to the general population. Also, after surgery, patients' attitudes towards surveillance were unchanged (5/10, 50%) or became more positive (4/10, 40%). Although patients were aware of the (sometimes benign) pathological outcome, when asked if surgery had been justified, only 20% (2/10) disagreed, and all would again have chosen to undergo surgery. In conclusion, in individuals at high risk for pancreatic cancer, intensified surveillance temporarily increased cancer worries, without affecting general anxiety or depression. Although pancreatic surgery led to substantial co-morbidity, quality of life was similar to the general population, and surgery did not negatively affect the attitude towards surveillance.

Keywords: Pancreatic cancer; Patient-reported outcome measures; Psychology; Quality of life; Resection; Surveillance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Attitude
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / psychology
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / surgery*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / psychology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Patient Selection
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Period
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires