Pancreatic Cancer Screening Study

Pancreatic cancer (PC) is one of the most lethal of human cancers, with five-year survival rates under 10 percent. It is on a trajectory to become the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. by 2020. The reason for this is that pancreatic cancer cells spread to other parts of the body before the cancer is diagnosed. The ability to detect pancreatic cancer at an early, more curable stage is, therefore, urgently needed.

In an effort to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer, WCHN has developed a clinical trial entitled, “A Pancreatic Cancer Screening Study in High Risk Individuals Including Those With New-Onset Diabetes Mellitus.” Individuals over 50 years of age who develop diabetes are at a significantly increased risk of PC in the first three years after a diagnosis of diabetes.

The study is being run by a team of dedicated physicians and researchers, led by Richard Frank, MD, Director of Clinical Cancer Research at the WCHN. The trial will include individuals with a strong family history of pancreatic cancer as well as those with new-onset diabetes mellitus (diagnosed within the past year). Participants will undergo annual high-resolution MRI examinations of the pancreas for three years. Any suspicious lesions will be further examined by endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). If pancreatic cancer or a pre-cancerous lesion is identified, the individual will be referred for surgery. 

In an effort to determine a blood-based diagnostic test for the presence of early stage pancreatic cancer, study participants will be asked to donate a sample of blood every six month for three years. Such a test or “biomarker” would ultimately be used to determine which individuals are at high risk of PC and should undergo regular screening with MRI or EUS.

We will cover the costs of MRI examinations and other study related costs through philanthropic donations. Funding for this $2.7 million initiative depends on philanthropic support from individuals, corporations and foundations interested in finding an early detection for this lethal disease. To learn more about how you can support this study; please call (203) 852-2216 or (203) 739-7227.

For more information about this clinical trial; please contact Tammy Lo, APRN at (203) 855-3551 or