How Can Pancreatic Cancer Be Diagnosed Early?

Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 8:44am

Unfortunately, most pancreatic cancer cases are not found until the disease has reached stage IV. As with most cancers, catching it late means the disease has spread to other organs and the prognosis is poorer than if it had been caught early. While researchers continue to search for new treatments for late-stage pancreatic cancer, educating yourself and your loved ones, and knowing your family history, is imperative.

Why is Pancreatic Cancer Found Late?

There are a few reasons a patient may not be diagnosed until they have advanced stage pancreatic cancer – primarily, the lack of symptoms. Many pancreatic cancer patients do not notice anything is wrong until the disease has impacted other areas of their body. And, the symptoms they may experience (bloating, stomach issues, etc.) are common indications of less-serious problems. Other more serious warning signs include dark urine, jaundice, unexplained weight loss and more.

Is There a Screening for Pancreatic Cancer?

While there is no standard screening recommendation for everyone at average risk (like colonoscopies and mammograms), there is a pancreatic cancer screening for people at high risk. You may be eligible for pancreatic cancer screening if you have one of the following:

  • Two or more parents, siblings or children diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
  • Three or more blood relatives who each had two parents, siblings or children with pancreatic cancer
  • A diagnosis of Peutz-Jeghers syndrome

You may also be eligible if:

  • Your parent, sibling or child was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and they had genetic testing that showed a mutation of P16, PALB2 or Lynch Syndrome
  • Your parent, sibling or child was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and you had genetic testing that showed a genetic mutation of BRCA2

"I urge everyone with a family history of pancreatic cancer to check their eligibility. If you haven't had genetic testing, we offer genetic testing through Roswell Park's screening center," explains Tessa Faye Flores, MD, Medical Director of Cancer Survivorship and Screening. "We offer multidisciplinary pancreatic cancer screening to those who qualify. Patients with an increased risk of cancer are screened twice a year for the development of pancreatic cancers. If there is an abnormality found on imaging, the patient will be referred to Dr. Bain or Dr. Hochwald for further evaluation. Our mission is to detect the cancers early in hopes to improve prognosis and survival."

Pancreatic Cancer Risk Assessment
Find out if you qualify for pancreatic cancer screening at Roswell Park.

Check Your Eligibility

Roswell Park is proud to be one of only 42 centers nationwide recognized as an NPF Center for pancreatic cancer.