Early detection of pancreatic cancer

Victoria M. Kim, Nita Ahuja

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is a low-incident but highly mortal disease. It accounts for only 3% of estimated new cancer cases each year but is currently the fourth common cause of cancer mortality. By 2030, it is expected to be the 2nd leading cause of cancer death. There is a clear need to diagnose and classify pancreatic cancer at earlier stages in order to give patients the best chance at a definitive cure through surgery. Three precursor lesions that distinctly lead to pancreatic adenocarcinoma have been identified, and we have increasing understanding the non-genetic and genetic risk factors for the disease. With increased understanding about the risk factors, the familial patters, and associated accumulation of genetic mutations involved in pancreatic cancer, we know that there are mutations that occur early in the development of pancreatic cancer and that improved genetic risk-based strategies in screening for pancreatic cancer may be possible and successful at saving or prolonging lives. The remaining challenge is that current standards for diagnosing pancreatic cancer remain too invasive and too costly for widespread screening for pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, the promises of noninvasive methods of detection such as blood, saliva, and stool remain underdeveloped or lack robust testing. However, significant progress has been made, and we are drawing closer to a strategy for the screening and early detection of pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-331
Number of pages11
JournalChinese Journal of Cancer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015


  • Early detection
  • Familial pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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