Pancreatic Cancer Surveillance Programs Lead to Earlier Diagnoses and Better Outcomes

January 25, 2023 by Elisa Becze BA, ELS, Editor

Most patients at high risk for developing pancreatic cancer whose disease was found while participating in a screening program were diagnosed with early-stage cancers, according to study findings ( published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Researchers enrolled 1,461 people at high risk for pancreatic cancer to receive annual pancreatic imaging tests. Nine patients were later diagnosed with pancreatic cancer: seven (77.8%) with stage I, one with stage IIB, and one with stage III disease. Seven of the nine patients were alive after a median follow-up of 2.6 years.

The findings are part of a larger study with an entire cohort of 1,731 patients. Among the larger cohort’s 26 pancreatic cancer diagnoses, 19 were in patients who maintained their pancreas surveillance. Of those, 57.9% had stage I, 15.8% had stage II, 21.1% had stage III, and 5.2% had stage IV disease. In contrast, six of the seven pancreatic cancers detected in patients who had stopped their annual surveillance (85.7%) were stage IV. For the patients with surveillance-detected pancreatic cancer, five-year survival is 73.3% and median overall survival is 9.8 years, compared with 1.5 years for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer outside surveillance.

“Pancreatic surveillance of high-risk individuals can dramatically downstage diagnoses; most of the patients in the multicenter study to date had stage I disease,” the researchers concluded ( “Longer follow-up is needed to better define the benefits of surveillance in high-risk cohorts, along with long-term studies designed to evaluate the role of emerging biomarker tests.”

Learn more about the known biomarkers for pancreatic adenocarcinoma ( in the ONS Biomarker Database.

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