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Hereditary Pancreatic Cancer

What is Hereditary (Familial) Pancreatic Cancer?

Today, oncology investigators and clinicians agree that at least 10% of all pancreatic cancers are inherited. This means that pancreatic cancer has a tendency to run in certain families, and scientists want to know why. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases 2-fold for a person who has one first-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister) with the disease. Having multiple affected members increases risk even more. The term Familial Pancreatic Cancer (FPC) is for families with 2 or more family members with pancreatic adenocarcinoma (the most common form of pancreatic cancer).

What are Familial Registries and Why are They Important?

Gathering information from families with a history of pancreatic cancer offers an opportunity to study the cause of cancer of the pancreas. This information is helping to devise new ways to diagnose pancreatic cancers in earlier stages, and ultimately, to develop better treatments for the disease. These registries are research-based. While your participation in one of these registries may help investigators learn more about familial pancreatic cancer, your participation in a registry does not substitute for clinical care by your own doctors.

What are Surveillance Programs?

A number of research programs studying how best to screen for early pancreatic pre-cancer have also been created. These surveillance programs differ throughout the United States, and each program designs its own research and clinical protocols. For example, some involve periodic screening of individuals with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer using endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). Just as is true for family research registries, your participation in a surveillance program does not substitute for clinical care by your own doctors. All Surveillance Programs and Familial Registries share a common goal: To learn more about the biological cause of familial pancreatic cancer in the hopes of developing early detection strategies and better treatments for the disease.


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