Get notified of page updates
Risk Management & Treatment

Screening for pancreatic cancer

This section covers the following topics:

  • Types of pancreatic cancer screening
  • Pancreatic cancer screening guidelines for high risk people

Experts do not recommend screening healthy people at average risk for pancreatic cancer. In people at high for pancreatic cancer, screening is only recommended for certain people. 

Types of pancreatic cancer screening

  • Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is a special type of imaging that looks closely at the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, bile duct and pancreatic duct to find abnormalities such as cancer. People undergoing MRCP must fast for four hours before the procedure. An injection of contrast agent—called gadolinium—is given before the test in order to help radiologists to find abnormalities more easily.
  • Endoscopic  (EUS) involves passing a tiny scope with an attached probe down the esophagus to the stomach. This allows doctors to look closely at the pancreas. EUS is performed as an outpatient procedure under anesthesia. 

Graphic of endoscopic <button
                class='glossary-tip tt-ultrasound'
                x-tooltip='<p>Also known as a sonogram, ultrasound is a device that&nbsp;uses sound to see images of internal organs and&nbsp;look for abnormalities in the body. Ultrasounds are sometimes used along with other methods to diagnose breast, ovarian, and pancreatic, and prostate cancers. Ultrasounds may also be used to diagnose pregnancy or conditions such as heart disease.</p>
            >ultrasound</button> procedure
Endoscopic procedure to look for pancreatic tumors

Screening for people with inherited mutations

NCCN recommends that people undergoing pancreatic screening have the procedure at a facility with experience screening people at high risk for pancreatic cancer. Before undergoing screening, people should have a conversation with their doctor about the potential benefits, risks, costs and limitations of screening.

NCCN recommends that people with inherited mutations in the following genes (with or without a family history of cancer) "consider pancreatic cancer screening" with MRCP or EUS:

  • : (): Consider pancreatic cancer screening by MRCP or EUS every 1-2 years beginning at age 30-35 or 10 years younger than the earliest pancreatic cancer in the family.
  • CDKN2A: Consider pancreatic cancer screening beginning at age 40 or 10 years earlier than the earliest pancreatic cancer diagnosis in the family.

NCCN guidelines recommend that people with an inherited mutation in one of the following genes and a family history of cancer "consider pancreatic cancer screening" with MRCP or EUS beginning at age 50 or 10 years earlier than the earliest pancreatic cancer diagnosis in the family:

Last updated September 11, 2021

Find Experts
Find Experts

The organization, Collaborative Group of the Americas- Inherited Gastrointestinal Cancer (CGA-IGC) curates an updated list of hospitals and programs with expertise in pancreatic cancer screening for high-risk people. 

updated: 06/18/2022

Open Clinical Trials
Open Clinical Trials

The following are studies looking at risk management for pancreatic cancer:

A number of other clinical trials for pancreatic cancer screening and prevention may be found here.

updated: 06/18/2022