14 Aug USPSTF Recommends Against Routine Pancreatic Cancer Screening for Asymptomatic Low-Risk Adults
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Chyke A. Doubeni, M.D., M.P.H.
Dr. Doubeni is a family physician and
The inaugural director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Health Equity and Community Engagement Research
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force uses systematic review of existing research to make recommendations on clinical preventive services that are delivered in primary care, with the goal to promote and improve health for all Americans. Although pancreatic cancer is an uncommon condition in the general population, it is often deadly.
Pancreatic cancer is now the third most common cause of cancer death in the United States, and could become the second leading cause if current trends continue. The vast majority of people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed at a late stage and, unfortunately, even when caught early enough when surgery could be most effective, only a little over one-third of patients survive beyond five years.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The primary take away from this recommendation statement is that the Task Force recommends against screening for pancreatic cancer in adults who have no signs or symptoms of the disease and are not at high risk. In addition to being a rare condition, there are currently no accurate tests for finding pancreatic cancer in people without signs or symptoms. For those reasons, screening can lead to unnecessary and risky treatment. This is a D recommendation.
Although patients found to have pancreatic cancer at an early stage can undergo treatment, the major procedure performed is associated with substantial harm, and the survival rate remains suboptimal.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Having effective means to detect pancreatic cancer at an early, treatable stage, as well as having better outcomes from treatment, are two crucial areas that are in need of advancement in scientific knowledge. Therefore, research is needed to identify effective screening tests that find pancreatic cancer early. Additionally, research is needed to understand how pancreatic cancer develops, specifically, which changes in tissue develop into cancer and can therefore be used as a marker to potentially prevent it from occurring in the first place.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: The Task Force continues to recommend against screening for pancreatic cancer in adults who have no signs or symptoms of the disease and are not at high risk because the current evidence shows that the harms of screening outweigh the benefits. Similarly, no other organizations currently recommend screening for pancreatic cancer in the general population.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Pancreatic Cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2019;322(5):438–444. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.10232
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Last Updated on August 14, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD