Clinical Review

Early Identification of Pancreatic Cancer

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Genetic counseling and testing options should be explored with at-risk patients and their families. These patients should be advised to seek immediate medical attention for abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and/or jaundice, and to return for further evaluation if symptoms persist despite initial treatment.59

The greater the clinician’s clinical understanding of the various pancreatic syndromes and their management, the better prepared he or she will be to evaluate each patient’s genetic risk and to provide high-quality clinical care.


Making a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer early enough to make effective treatment possible continues to challenge both researchers and clinicians. Current treatment modalities are not sufficiently effective, as evidenced by the high mortality rate associated with pancreatic cancer. Until clinical research provides increased insight into detecting this lethal disease and generating more effective therapies, it is up to the primary care clinician to routinely explore the family and social history of at-risk patients and to recognize the risk factors and symptomatology associated with pancreatic cancer. Early detection, followed by the most effective treatment options available, may lead to a more hopeful prognosis.

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