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JAMA. 2019 Aug 6;322(5):445-454. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.6190.

Screening for Pancreatic Cancer: Updated Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force.

Author information

Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Kaiser Permanente Research Affiliates Evidence-based Practice Center, Seattle.
Hepatopancreatobiliary Service, Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle.
Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Research Affiliates Evidence-based Practice Center, Portland, Oregon.



Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the third most common cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States.


To systematically review benefits and harms of screening for pancreatic adenocarcinoma to inform the US Preventive Services Task Force.

Data Sources:

MEDLINE, PubMed, and the Cochrane Collaboration Registry of Controlled Trials, from January 2002 through April 27, 2018; surveillance through March 22, 2019.

Study Selection:

Studies of adults with or without risk factors for pancreatic adenocarcinoma (eg, family history of pancreatic cancer, personal history of new-onset diabetes) undergoing imaging-based screening; studies of treatment for adults with screen-detected or asymptomatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Included study designs were randomized clinical trials, nonrandomized controlled intervention studies, diagnostic accuracy studies with a reference standard, cohort studies, and case-control studies (for evaluation of harms only). Studies consisting entirely of populations with known genetic syndromes associated with pancreatic cancer were excluded.

Data Extraction and Synthesis:

Two investigators independently reviewed abstracts and full-text articles and rated included studies for quality; data were quantitatively analyzed to calculate a pooled diagnostic yield and narratively synthesized.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Mortality, morbidity, or quality of life; diagnostic accuracy of screening tests; any harm of screening or treatment.


Thirteen fair-quality prospective cohort screening studies (N = 1317) conducted predominantly in populations at high familial risk for pancreatic adenocarcinoma were included. No studies reported on the effect of screening on morbidity or mortality or on the effectiveness of treatment for screen-detected pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Although no studies evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of screening tests, all 13 studies reported the diagnostic yield. Yields ranged from 0 to 75 cases per 1000 persons in studies using endoscopic ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and/or computed tomography-based screening. In total, 18 cases of pancreatic adenocarcinoma were detected in 1156 adults at increased familial risk and 0 cases were detected in 161 average-risk adults. In 8 studies (n = 675) assessing procedural harms of screening, no serious harms from initial screening were reported. Two studies (n = 271) found no evidence of psychosocial harms related to screening. Evidence of surgical harms was limited.

Conclusions and Relevance:

Imaging-based screening in groups at high familial risk can detect pancreatic adenocarcinoma with limited evidence of minimal harms. However, the effect of screening on morbidity and mortality in groups at high familial risk has not been studied, and no data are available in average-risk populations. There is limited evidence to assess benefits or harms of surgical intervention for screen-detected pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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