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Refinement of screening for familial pancreatic cancer


Objective Surveillance programmes are recommended for individuals at risk (IAR) of familial pancreatic cancer (FPC) to detect early pancreatic cancer (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, PDAC). However, the age to begin screening and the optimal screening protocol remain to be determined.

Methods IAR from non-CDKN2A FPC families underwent annual screening by MRI with endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS) in board-approved prospective screening programmes at three tertiary referral centres. The diagnostic yield according to age and different screening protocols was analysed.

Results 253 IAR with a median age of 48 (25–81) years underwent screening with a median of 3 (1–11) screening visits during a median follow-up of 28 (1–152) months. 134 (53%) IAR revealed pancreatic lesions on imaging, mostly cystic (94%), on baseline or follow-up screening. Lesions were significantly more often identified in IAR above the age of 45 years (p<0.0001). In 21 IAR who underwent surgery, no significant lesions (PDAC, pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) 3 lesions, high-grade intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasia (IPMN)) were detected before the age of 50 years. Potentially relevant lesions (multifocal PanIN2 lesions, low/moderate-grade branch-duct IPMNs) occurred also significantly more often after the age of 50 years (13 vs 2, p<0.0004). The diagnostic yield of potentially relevant lesions was not different between screening protocols using annual MRI with EUS (n=98) or annual MRI with EUS every 3rd year (n=198) and between IAR screened at intervals of 12 months (n=180) or IAR that decided to be screened at ≥24 months intervals (n=30).

Conclusions It appears safe to start screening for PDAC in IAR of non-CDKN2a FPC families at the age of 50 years. MRI-based screening supplemented by EUS at baseline and every 3rd year or when changes in MRI occur appears to be efficient.


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