Can Pancreatic Cancer Be Detected Early?

Currently, there are no forms of pancreatic cancer screening that are recommended for people who are not showing signs of cancer. The goal of cancer screening is to reliably detect cancer before it has progressed to cause noticeable symptoms. However, for cancer screening to be recommended for the general population, it must be deemed accurate, safe and cost-effective, and there are not currently any methods of pancreatic cancer screening that meet those criteria.

Who should be screened for pancreatic cancer?

While pancreatic cancer screening is not currently recommended for the general population, some individuals may benefit from regular screening, such as those who have a family history of pancreatic cancer. Additionally, those with hereditary or chronic pancreatitis may also benefit from regular pancreatic cancer screening.  To find out if screening is appropriate for you, discuss your medical history and risk factors with your physician. If screening is deemed to be necessary, the specific type of screening and the interval at which it is performed will also need to be determined.

How is pancreatic cancer detected?

There are several diagnostic tests that may be recommended for patients who must have regular pancreatic cancer screenings:

  • CT scan – A computed tomography scan is an imaging test that takes X-ray images from many different angles to produce a cross-sectional image that can reveal tumors and other lesions.
  • MRCP – Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography is an MRI scan that focuses specifically on the pancreas and bile duct.
  • EUS – An endoscopic ultrasound is an invasive imaging test that uses an endoscope to evaluate the pancreas. If signs of cancer are present, a physician will collect tissue samples and send them to a lab for analysis.
  • ERCP – Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a test that uses both X-rays and endoscopes to view the pancreas. Biopsies may be taken during this procedure, if necessary.

To learn more about pancreatic cancer screening, or to discuss your pancreatic cancer risk factors and medical history with a Moffitt physician, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. You do not need a referral to request an appointment.