Screening tests for pancreatic cancer

2018-02-01
Paul Moayyedi

Is there any screening test for pancreatic cancer?

Paul Moayyedi: The short answer to that is no. Pancreatic cancer is a terrible disease. It is almost universally fatal. Obviously, we would like to have a test that detected it early so that we could provide treatment, because by the time it presents with symptoms it is usually too late. Obviously, there are exceptions.

Unfortunately, there is no screening test yet, and it is not common enough that you would do population screening with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for example. It just would not be cost-effective at current prices. You would only screen high-risk populations, that is, [patients with] a strong family history of pancreatic cancer, or if you find a cyst that you might be concerned about and want to watch and wait. Otherwise, screening is not usually recommended for pancreatic cancer, despite it being such an awful disease.

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