USPSTF recommends against pancreatic cancer screening for healthy patients

Asymptomatic adults should not be screened for pancreatic cancer, according to a new final recommendation shared by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The full USPSTF recommendation can be read in JAMA.

The USPSTF found no signs that imaging-based screening—including CT, MRI and endoscopic ultrasonography—improve patient outcomes. Possible side effects of screening include “pain, adverse reactions to anesthesia, false-positive results and sometimes pancreatitis,” according to a prepared statement.

Overall, such screening received a “D” recommendation from the USPSTF.

“Pancreatic cancer is an uncommon, but devastating disease with low survival rates, even in those detected at early stages,” Chyke Doubeni, MD, MPH, USPSTF member, said in the statement. “Unfortunately, at the present time, screening for pancreatic cancer in people without any signs or symptoms would cause more harm than good and therefore should not be done.”

“Clinicians need to be able to find pancreatic cancer earlier in its development, when it is more treatable,” Chien-Wen Tseng, MD, MPH, MSEE, USPSTF member, said in the same statement. “The Task Force is calling for more research on effective and accurate screening tests that can detect pancreatic cancer earlier and that lead to fewer harms.”

This latest recommendation is the same stance the group took in 2004. The USPSTF also noted that its stance does not apply to high-risk adults.