Is Early Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer Fiction? Surveillance of Individuals at High Risk for Pancreatic Cancer

Femme Harinck, Jan-werner Poley, I Kluijt, P Fockens, Marco Bruno

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Pancreatic cancer represents one of the most deadly human malignancies with an overall 5-year survival of less than 5%. Despite improvements in imaging techniques and surgical techniques, survival statistics have hardly improved over the past decades. To improve the dismal outlook it would be highly desirable to develop a program to detect precursor lesions or small asymptomatic early cancers at the time when the disease is still at a curable stage. Screening the general population for disease presence is not feasible at present because of the relatively low disease incidence and the lack of a noninvasive, reliable and cheap screening tool. Targeted surveillance programs, however, in individuals at high risk for developing pancreatic cancer, like mutation carriers of pancreatic cancer prone hereditary (tumor) syndromes or individuals with a strong family history of pancreatic cancer without a known underlying genetic defect, might be feasible. Careful consideration of the criteria put forward by Wilson and Jungner as published by the World Health Organization on the principles and practice of screening for disease, indicate that surveillance in this high-risk population by means of endosonography (EUS) and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) represents a promising development, though experimental. It nicely points out which open questions need to be addressed. Among others, these include how to acquire a better understanding of the natural behavior and progression of precursor lesions towards invasive cancer, how to firmly establish the performance characteristics of EUS and MRI for the detection of (early) lesions in individuals at high risk for pancreatic cancer, and how to determine which lesions can be safely observed with continued surveillance and which lesions justify resection. Copyright (C) 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)670-678
Number of pages9
JournalDigestive Diseases
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Research programs

  • EMC MGC-02-96-01
  • EMC MM-03-47-02-A
  • EMC MM-03-47-11
  • EMC MM-04-20-01

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