Early detection of sporadic pancreatic cancer: time for change

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Sporadic pancreatic cancer amounts to ∼90% of all pancreatic cancers. It is a gloomy depressive disease and the most recalcitrant malignancy, with a very low 5-year survival (3–6%). At present, diagnostic methods are commonly applied, as used half a century ago, after the appearance of local and systemic symptoms (abdominal and back pain, cholestasis, painless jaundice, fatigue, anorexia, weight loss, anemia, peripheral phlebitis, and cachexia). Unfortunately, these symptoms are harbingers of an advanced disease. The subsequent imaging methods may offer additional information on the location, size, and morphology of the lesion, but they do not influence the prognosis. Radical surgery may be offered to 15–20% of patients. The relapses after surgery are frequent and chemotherapy may be palliative. Preventive programs represent the only possibility of improvement. We propose the first multistep and multidisciplinary preventive program for early detection of sporadic pancreatic cancer for the differential identification of average-risk patients who probably have the disease from those who do not.

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