Pancreatic Cancer Screening Trial

The first Australian pancreatic cancer screening trial is recruiting at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and Austin Health, Melbourne. The aim of the study is to assess endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) as a screening method in a population considered to be at increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Why screen for pancreatic cancer?

Early detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer can significantly improve the outcome. However, due to the relatively low incidence of pancreas cancer, population-based screening is not considered feasible. A number of international screening programs are working together to define a population who may benefit from regular surveillance and to establish evidence-based screening protocols for families at an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer screening in Australia

The pancreatic cancer screening trial commenced at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, in 2011 and over 100 participants are receiving regular research-based surveillance. The trial has since expanded to Austin Health in Melbourne. The specialist gastroenterologists use endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), a combination of endoscopy and ultrasound, to closely assess the pancreas. The aim of the trial is to determine how effectively EUS  detects premalignant lesions and early pancreatic cancers in high risk individuals.

Who is eligible for screening?

Family history of pancreatic cancer and genetic results are the main predictors used to assess individuals eligible for the screening trial.

You may be eligible to join the St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, screening study if you are 50-80yrs of age (or 10 years younger than the youngest relative diagnosed with pancreatic cancer) and fit into one of the following inclusion criteria:

  • People with two first-degree relatives affected by pancreatic cancer on the same side (e.g. a parent and a sibling, 2 siblings)
  • People with three or more relatives affected by pancreatic cancer on the same side, and a first-degree relationship with at least one affected relative
  • People who are known carriers of the BRCA2 gene and have a first-degree relative with pancreatic cancer
  • People with Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome
  • People with Hereditary Pancreatitis

How do I become involved?

If you believe you are eligible to join the St Vincent’s Hospital screening trial, please take the attached NSW referral for your GP or specialist doctor to complete.

Victorian individuals wanting to find out more about the Austin Health eligibility and the enrollment process can email the screening trial coordinator on info@pancare.org.au.

What does the study involve?

The main components of the study include:

  • Signed consent and completion of a questionnaire on personal health and family history
  • Attending a genetic counselling session at a local Family Cancer Clinic
  • Endoscopic ultrasounds, at intervals recommended by the study gastroenterologist
  • Brief follow up questionnaires at one month, one year and five year intervals following your first EUS

You will be guided through the process by the site clinical coordinator, who will assist with any questions or concerns along the way.