Pancreatic Cancer Screening

Pancreatic cancer screening, in its currently available forms, is not recommended for the general population. The goal of any screening test is to safely, accurately and cost-effectively diagnose cancer at a stage at which no symptoms are present so that a patient can take appropriate actions to address the condition. Research into potential screening methods is ongoing, but as of yet, no testing modality has proven to be reliable enough in meeting these criteria to warrant its widespread use in patients who do not have any symptoms.

With that said, pancreatic cancer screening is appropriate in certain cases. Specifically, screening might benefit patients who are at high risk for developing the condition, such as those with a family history of pancreatic or certain other cancers, or those who have chronic or hereditary pancreatitis. For such patients, one or more of the following diagnostic tests might be recommended:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan – An imaging test that can reveal the presence of suspicious lesions
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) – A minimally invasive imaging test that uses an endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) to evaluate the pancreas for signs of cancer; if suspicious lesions are present, a physician can obtain tissue samples during the same procedure and send them to a lab for further analysis
  • Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) – A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test that focuses on the pancreas and bile duct
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – A test that combines the use of endoscopes and X-rays to help a physician visualize the pancreas and biliary tree; biopsies can also be performed during ERCP

Even if a patient is predisposed to pancreatic cancer, not all of these pancreatic cancer screening tests are necessarily appropriate. Depending on a patient’s medical history and individual risk factors, a physician can recommend suitable testing at regular intervals. At Moffitt Cancer Center, screening recommendations are made by a multispecialty team of experts. This group meets weekly to collaboratively develop patient care plans. As such, our patients receive the benefit of multiple expert opinions in a single location.

To learn more about pancreatic cancer screening options, call 1-888-MOFFITT or request to schedule an appointment online. No referral is needed to visit Moffitt Cancer Center.