Conference Coverage

Pancreatic cancer screening appears safe, effective for high-risk patients



Pancreatic cancer screening appears to be safe and effective for certain patients with high-risk indications due to genetic susceptibility, according to a prospective multicenter study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.

Screening in high-risk patients detected high-risk lesions in 0.8% of patients, which was lower than the typical range found in the literature, at 3%, said Andy Silva-Santisteban, MD, a research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., which is estimated to become the second leading cause by 2030. About 15%-20% of patients are candidates for surgical resection at the time of diagnosis, with survival rates below 10%.

“These statistics have led pancreatic cancer screening to be studied with the goal of detecting earlier stages of the disease to improve survival,” Dr. Silva-Santisteban said. “However, pancreatic cancer screening is not recommended for the general population.”

Pancreatic cancer screening is recommended for patients with increased risk due to genetic susceptibility, yet recent studies have found that screening studies face limitations from factors like small sample sizes, single-center focus, retrospective nature, nonconsecutive accrual of patients, varied inclusion criteria, and use of nonstandardized screening protocols.

To overcome these limitations, Dr. Silva-Santisteban and colleagues conducted a prospective multicenter study of pancreatic cancer screening in consecutive high-risk patients at five centers in the United States between 2020 and 2022, also called the Pancreas Scan Study. Dr. Silva-Santisteban presented results from the first round of enrollment, which was awarded the Outstanding Research Award in the Biliary/Pancreas Category for Trainee.

The research team evaluated the yield (low-, moderate-, and high-risk pancreatic pathology), safety, and outcomes of screening. Low-risk pancreas pathology was categorized as fatty pancreas and chronic pancreatitis-like changes. Intermediate-risk was categorized as branch duct–intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm or neuroendocrine tumor under 2 cm. High-risk was categorized as main duct–intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (MD-IPMN), pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia grade III (PanIN-III)/dysplasia, neuroendocrine tumor over 2 cm, or pancreatic cancer.

Patients were included if they were 18 years or older and had at least one of the following: BRCA1, BRCA2, or PALB2 plus a family history of pancreatic cancer; Lynch syndrome plus a family history of pancreatic cancer; Peutz-Jeghers syndrome; familial atypical multiple mole melanoma (FAMMM); ataxia telangiectasia mutated plus family history of pancreatic cancer; hereditary pancreatitis; or familial pancreatic cancer (FPC) syndrome.


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