Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer Earlier

The following interview was conducted with Dr. John A. Chabot, Chief, Division of GI & Endocrine Surgery, Director, Pancreas Center.

There are situations where a pancreatic specialist might be able to diagnose people much earlier than they are currently diagnosed. One thing we know, for example, that is missed frequently is new onset diabetes in a person who has no reason to develop diabetes. This might be the earliest indication that people have pancreatic cancer.

We know that people who develop pancreatitis, which is a very common disease, who don’t have an explanation for their pancreatitis should not just be labeled “pancreatitis of unknown cause.” They need to come to a center like ours– where true expertise exists– to get that diagnosis made early

It takes incredibly technologically advanced investigation to diagnose pancreatic cancer early. It takes people who are skilled, deploying those tools to diagnose pancreatic cancer early. But, if you have a family history, if you have pancreatitis that’s unexplained, or you have new onset diabetes and you have no family history and you are not obese, those are situations where I urge you to ask the question of your doctor, “Do you think I should go to a pancreatic expert center to have this investigated?”

It’s not just going and getting a regular MRI, it’s not just going and getting a CAT scan; it’s having the people who are truly experts in these processes interpret all of the studies and use the tools that we have to come to early diagnosis.

Ultimately, the way we beat pancreatic cancer is early diagnosis and early intervention.