Can You Screen for Early Pancreatic Cancer?

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Pancreatic cancer is actually best treated at the earliest stages, yet in which is actually hard to detect.

CreditStuart Bradford
Roni Caryn Rabin

Q. My father died of pancreatic cancer, in addition to also my understanding is actually in which one of the reasons in which is actually so deadly is actually in which in which is actually usually found when in which is actually fairly advanced. is actually there a routine screening due to This kind of cancer?

A. Pancreatic cancer is actually the fourth leading cause of cancer death inside the United States, claiming some 44,330 lives a year, yet there is actually currently no standard screening test in which can detect This kind of cancer early in addition to also “has actually been proven to save lives,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical in addition to also scientific officer for the American Cancer Society.

Individuals having a strong family history of pancreatic cancer, such as having a parent, sibling or child who developed the cancer before turning 50 or two such close relatives who developed in which at any age, are at increased risk of developing the disease themselves.

Certain genetic syndromes, like Lynch syndrome, which is actually associated with colorectal cancer, in addition to also mutations inside the BRCA1 in addition to also BRCA2 genes, which are linked to increased breast in addition to also ovarian cancer risk, have also been linked to pancreatic cancer.

yet while people who are at risk should be monitored, there is actually no medical consensus on the best way to do so.

Doctors may offer a blood test called a CA 19-9 radioimmunoassay to measure levels of a substance associated with pancreatic tumor cells, yet the test is actually problematic because noncancerous conditions can also cause CA 19-9 levels to rise, in addition to also not every patient with cancer will have an elevated level.

Doctors may also offer people at risk a CT or different type of scan in which focuses on the pancreas, yet these tests have not been proven effective at picking up tiny early stage cancers or precancers, in addition to also they expose patients to large amounts of radiation, Dr. Brawley said.

“There are anecdotal reports of people who know they have pancreatic cancer inside the family who got one or both of these tests in addition to also found what appeared to be a localized pancreatic cancer, in addition to also some of these people have gotten surgery in addition to also done very well,” Dr. Brawley said. “yet doctors like me are unable to say whether they would certainly have done well without the screening. We just can’t say one way or the different.”

He cautioned in which “the harms associated with both these tests are so severe in which actually only people who are at high risk ought to be getting them, if they should be getting them.”

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes in addition to also skin, dark urine, itchy skin, belly pain or back pain, weight loss, poor appetite, nausea in addition to also vomiting, enlargement of the liver or gallbladder in addition to also blood clots.

Some lifestyle habits — like smoking in addition to also obesity — are associated with pancreatic cancer, so quitting tobacco in addition to also keeping weight down may reduce the risk.

Workplace exposure to chemicals used inside the dry cleaning in addition to also metal working industries also increases risk, in addition to also people with Type 2 diabetes in addition to also some different conditions, like chronic pancreatitis in addition to also cirrhosis of the liver, are at increased risk as well.

African-Americans are slightly more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than whites, in addition to also men are slightly more likely to develop in which than women.

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