Pancreatic Cancer pp 1203-1235 | Cite as

Inherited Genetics of Pancreatic Cancer and Secondary Screening

  • William Greenhalf
  • John Neoptolemos
Reference work entry


The process of cancer screening starts with a large population that has many more individuals who are free of cancer than there are people who have occult disease. Then by a process of risk stratification low-risk individuals are removed until a point is reached where the majority of the population (the end population) has cancer. Ideally at the end point of this process testing becomes diagnostic, but in all cases at the end point positive test results must result in an offer of treatment. In the case of pancreatic cancer, curative treatment must include surgical resection of all or part of the pancreas, a process that involves considerable morbidity. Screening must therefore give an end population where the benefits of early treatment for those with cancer outweigh the harm done to false positive individuals who will be offered unnecessary surgery. Screening can be divided into primary and secondary, primary screening being observational and secondary involving active testing. In reality there is considerable overlap and a multidisciplinary team needs to consider the entire process when deciding whether screening is justified. In the case of pancreatic cancer this requires additional quantitative as well as qualitative data on each phase of the screening process; this can only be obtained from pilot screening studies. Such studies have been initiated and are generating data on the nature of inherited predisposition and the early stages of cancer development. It is already apparent that the specificity and sensitivity of secondary screening tests need to be improved. In this chapter, the preliminary evidence from pioneering screening studies will be considered. On the basis of this there will be a discussion of which participants should be recruited into future pilot studies and how biomarkers may be combined with imaging to reduce the number of missed cancers and premature surgical interventions.


Pancreatic Cancer Chronic Pancreatitis Promoter Methylation Pancreatic Juice Pancreatic Cancer Patient 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Greenhalf
    • 1
  • John Neoptolemos
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Surgery and OncologyRoyal Liverpool University HospitalLiverpool GAUK

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