Research has shed light on multi-organ cancer syndromes that increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. These syndromes include:
- Breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer in association with the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes
- Lynch syndrome (also called HNPCC, or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer), which is associated with colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, renal, biliary, and pancreatic cancers
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, which is associated with multiple gastrointestinal polyps
- FAMMM, or Familial Atypical Multiple Mole Melanoma, which can be marked by the presence of multiple moles on the body and history of melanoma in young family members
- Hereditary pancreatitis
For anyone with a family history of cancer, early screening is very important. If there is cancer in your family -- not just pancreatic, but any type of cancer -- you can now be proactive when you are feeling well and without symptoms in order to prevent cancer through screening tests, if available. If you wait until symptoms appear, often that is too late. While younger adults may resist the idea, they are especially encouraged to seek screening earlier rather than later. Not only can it help in treating yourself, but if you have children, knowledge about a genetic mutation or syndrome can potentially help your children. Your siblings may also be at risk and can benefit from screening.