Overview

Physicians and researchers in the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Research Program at Mayo Clinic hope to transform care and outcomes by creating an early detection strategy that would alter the typically difficult path faced by patients with pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, commonly referred to as pancreatic cancer, is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and incidence rates continue to rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pancreatic cancer is difficult to catch early because most tumors at an early stage don't have symptoms and elude diagnosis. As a result, more than half the people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed at a stage when the cancer already has spread outside the pancreas and treatment options are limited. Detection at an early stage when the cancer is localized to the pancreas is associated with a higher five-year survival rate. There are no tests or tools for low-cost, convenient, safe and accurate early-stage detection.

Our researchers in the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Research Program hope to change all that.

Using multidisciplinary team science and artificial intelligence tools, we're building state-of-the-art algorithms to systematically identify people at high risk of pancreatic cancer and discovering and validating novel imaging and molecular biomarkers for accurate early detection.

Our mission is to find a way to reliably detect pancreatic cancer at an early stage, when there are more treatment options to offer, including potentially curative surgical resection, and to identify changes that are harbingers of the disease that would allow for individualized risk prediction and treatment plans.

Our ultimate goal is ensuring that all people with pancreatic cancer live longer with a better quality of life.

The High-Risk Pancreas Clinic within the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, serves as the hub for pancreas cancer screening in people at high risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Directors

Gloria M. Petersen, Ph.D., and Shounak Majumder, M.D., direct the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Research Program.

Dr. Petersen is a health sciences researcher at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the Purvis and Roberta Tabor Professor, and a professor of epidemiology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Dr. Petersen's research focus is on the application of genetic epidemiology methods to understand pancreas cancer etiology. Read more about Dr. Petersen.

Dr. Majumder is a gastroenterologist and pancreatologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and an assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Dr. Majumder directs the High-Risk Pancreas Clinic and leads several biomarker discovery and validation studies for early detection, including studies aimed at developing a blood-based liquid biopsy test for early detection of pancreatic cancer in different risk groups. Read more about Dr. Majumder.

Funding

The Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Research Program was established in 2020. The program is funded by a generous gift from the Centene Charitable Foundation.