William Jarnagin, Chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Hepatopancreatobiliary Service, says that pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage. Surgery is an effective treatment, but pancreatic tumors often return even when found and treated early. The most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer are jaundice without pain, weight loss, sudden-onset diabetes, and abdominal pain, says gastroenterologist Mark Schattner.
People with a parent or sibling who has had pancreatic cancer have a higher risk for the disease. Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Familial Pancreatic Cancer Registry is collecting data from people with genetic risk factors for pancreatic cancer, such as a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Data from the registry may help to identify pancreatic cancers earlier and to develop targeted therapies for the disease.