Pancreatic Cancer Familial Screening Program Update

We were fortunate to have Tanya Dwarte, Clinical Research Coordinator from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, present on the Pancreatic Cancer Familial Screening Program for high-risk individuals, at our recent online Patient Support Group.

A highly informative session, Tanya provided an overview of the program, along with insight into eligibility for recruitment, process and tests involved and benefits gained from inclusion in the trial.

View the presentation video here.

View the presentation deck here.

Current research shows that some people have an increased lifetime risk of pancreatic cancer, approximately 10% of pancreatic cancers are linked to inherited factors. While screening everyone in the population is not feasible, research has found there is benefit to pancreatic cancer screening in ‘high-risk’ individuals, who meet strict criteria for inclusion in the program.

To be eligible, the individual must be over 50 years of age (or 10 years younger than the earliest diagnosis in the family) and have two or more first degree relatives with pancreatic cancer or have a faulty pancreas cancer predisposition gene (e.g. BRCA2, CDKN2A, PALB2 or one of the genes that cause Lynch syndrome) and at least one first degree relative with pancreatic cancer. People who have a diagnosis of Hereditary pancreatitis (aged over 40) or Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (aged over 30) are also eligible even if they do not have a relative with pancreatic cancer. If you fall outside this criteria, it may be worthwhile to have a conversation with your treating specialist regarding alternate options.

Tanya also shared that while screening trials are still generating evidence of benefit, preliminary data is encouraging. Perceived benefits included identification of early cancers, which could then enable medical intervention to hopefully improve clinical outcomes, providing reassurance and contributing to scientific research and understanding of pancreatic cancer development and detection.

The program is currently operating in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne (late 2020), with a new Perth site coming soon. For further information, please contact our Specialist Support Team at support@pancare.org.au.