Screening and preventative options
Even a cancer that has no symptoms in its early stages can sometimes be exposed while there is still time to treat it. In the case of pancreatic cancer, there are clues that can indicate an increased risk for some people:
- Family history of pancreatic cancer:
Any first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) diagnosed with pancreatic cancer under age 50;
two or more first-degree relatives OR one first-degree and two second-degree relatives (grandparents/grandchildren, aunts/uncles, nephews/nieces, half-siblings) diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at any age
- Sudden onset of diabetes in patients over age 50 with no risk factors for diabetes
- Hereditary pancreatitis
- Patients with a known genetic mutation: Ataxia Telangectasia, BRCA1, BRAC2, Familial Atypical multiple mole syndrome, Li-Fraumeni, Lynch Syndrome, Peutz-Jeughers
- Some types of pancreatic cysts
The Brenden-Colson Center supports a high-risk clinic for these patients and their family members who might be at risk for this cancer. OHSU physicians counsel them regarding lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their risk, and offer regular screening. The Brenden-Colson Center follows them long-term as part of our early detection research program.
At the OHSU Pancreatic Cancer High Risk Clinic, we will give you a comprehensive physical exam, get your detailed family and personal history, and discuss behavioral risk factors like smoking, alcohol use, exercise and optimal nutrition. We may then recommend additional screening options such as
- Imaging studies - non-invasive MRI or CT scan.
- Endoscopic Ultrasound - helps providers thoroughly evaluate your pancreas for tumors or cysts.
- Genetic testing and counseling - determines if you have a mutated gene that could increase your risk for pancreatic cancer. (Some people find this knowledge helpful; however, having a mutated gene does not necessarily mean you will develop pancreatic cancer. Nor does the absence of the gene mean you cannot get pancreatic cancer.)
You may also be eligible to participate in upcoming early detection clinical trials.
Talk to your primary care provider about a referral to OHSU's Pancreatic Cancer High Risk Clinic or call OHSU
at (503) 494-4373.