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Hereditary Cancer Info > Risk Management > Pancreatic Cancer Screening


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Pancreatic Cancer Screening

  • Basics
Learn about the steps that people at high risk for cancer can take to manage their risk and protect their health.

Pancreatic cancer screening overview

Guidelines exist for pancreatic cancer screening in people who have inherited mutations in STK11, CDKN2A, ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, EPCAM, PALB2 or TP53. mutation carriers. People with mutations in these genes and those with a family history of pancreatic cancer, are encouraged to discuss the pros and cons of annual screening with their health care provider. These people may also be eligible for pancreatic cancer screening clinical trials. Visit our research study page for links to clinical trials for early detection of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer screening is done using two types of medical procedures: 

  • Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is a special type of imaging MRI that is used to look at the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, bile duct and pancreatic duct. 
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) involves passing a tiny scope with an attached ultrasound probe down the esophagus to the stomach. This allows doctors to look closely at the pancreas.

EUS is more invasive than MRI and requires sedation.

STK11

  • People who have an STK11 mutation have up to a 36% lifetime risk of pancreatic cancer. For STK11 mutation carriers experts recommend:
    • Pancreatic cancer screening by MRCP or EUS every 1-2 years (both ideally performed at a center with expertise) beginning at age 30-35 or 10 years younger than the earliest pancreatic cancer in the family.

CDKN2A

  • People with a CDKN2A mutation have up to a 17% percent lifetime risk of developing pancreatic cancer. For CDNK2A mutation carriers experts recommend:
    • Consider pancreatic cancer screening beginning at age 40 or 10 years earlier than the earliest pancreatic cancer diagnosis in the family.
    • Screening should begin with annual MRCP and/or EUS (both ideally performed at a center with expertise).

Other genes linked to inherited pancreatic cancer risk

  • People with an ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, EPCAM, PALB2 or TP53 mutation have increased lifetime risks of pancreatic cancer with risk increasing significantly if there are other pancreatic cancers in the family. For these mutation carriers experts recommend:
    • Consider beginning pancreatic cancer screening at age 50 or 10 years earlier than the earliest pancreatic cancer diagnosis in the family.
    • Screening should begin with annual MRCP and/or EUS (both ideally performed at a center with expertise).

Updated 01/31/2020

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