Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, but the risk for pancreatic cancer is low among the general population. For those who are at increased risk, it is important to get screened by physicians who are skilled in detecting any abnormalities or changes in your pancreas.
Physicians at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago use the latest technology to screen and diagnose pancreatic cancer. With pancreatic cancer, it is important to detect the disease at an earlier stage, at which point the most effective treatments can be offered.
Frequently Asked Questions about Pancreatic Cancer Screening
There are a number of risk factors for pancreatic cancer, which may include:
Family history of pancreatic cancer
Family history is defined that you have either: a first degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at an early age (younger than 60 years old); or two first degree relatives diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; or c) two second degree relatives (aunt/uncle, grandparent, cousins) with pancreatic cancer one of which occurred at an early age (younger than 60 years old.
Certain hereditary conditions, including:
Multiple endocrine neoplasia type I syndrome
Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC or Lynch Syndrome)
von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma syndrome (FAMMM)
Additionally, if you use tobacco products, have newly diagnosed diabetes or have been diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, you should speak with your doctor about getting screened for pancreatic cancer.
Within the early stages of pancreatic cancer, there are often no symptoms. Symptoms often appear as the disease progresses, which may include jaundice, weight loss, abdominal pain, and back pain.
Screening is not recommended for the general public because the incidence of pancreatic cancer overall remains very low in the United States. However, for certain individuals with risk factors for the development of pancreas cancer, screening seems to be a reasonable approach. The decision for screening should be made on an individual basis.
Rush University Medical Center currently offers a comprehensive screening program for pancreatic cancer. Our pancreas cancer screening team consists of interventional gastroenterologists, pancreatic surgeons, oncologists, genetic counselors, and radiologists.
Our facilities are equipped to perform pancreatic CT scans, MRI/MRCP, endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) with or without fine needle aspiration (FNA), endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and PET scans. We also perform lab testing for several tumor markers used in detecting pancreas cancer.
CT scans, MRIs, and EUS are used to examine for possible masses within the pancreas, which might suggest a cancer. If an abnormality is identified, a biopsy can be performed of the mass to confirm whether or not cancer is present. Additional testing of the blood or biopsy sample can also be performed accordingly.
To make an appointment to discuss your risk and get screened for pancreatic cancer, please call University Gastroenterologists at (312) 942-5861 and request an appointment with Abhitabh Patil, MD, or Joshua Melson, MD.