Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: Screening for pancreatic cancer

Q. We have screening tests for other cancers. How about pancreatic cancer?

A. Screening tests are most effective — and practical — if they're looking for fairly common conditions. Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease, but compared with other cancers that we screen for, it's relatively rare.

So, at least for the time being, rather than seeking a universal screening test, researchers have been focusing their efforts on finding one that would work in high-risk populations, which includes people who have chronic pancreatitis, a family history of that condition or pancreatic cancer, or mutations in the BRCA2 gene. BRCA2 mutations were first associated with breast and ovarian cancer, but it's become apparent that they're also associated with pancreatic cancer.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »