Prevention & Genetics

Here at The Pancreas Center, we believe identifying and treating individuals at the highest risk for pancreatic cancer prior to development of advanced disease poses the greatest opportunity in the battle against pancreatic cancer. While these topics are a focus in only a handful of the very best institutions in the country, prevention, genetics and early detection are priorities at this institution.

The Muzzi Mirza Pancreatic Cancer Prevention & Genetics Program combines a patient-centered clinical practice with a robust research program. Consistently on the leading edge of the prevention and early detection field, our clinical and research programs are integrally related. This allows the lessons learned from basic and translational research to be incorporated into clinical action quickly and effectively.

Inherited genetic mutations play a role in up to 25% of cases, and there is a 2 to 125-fold increase in the risk of pancreas cancer in individuals with a family history of the disease. It is known that at least five distinct cancer syndromes account for a number of inherited pancreatic cancers: Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma syndrome (FAMMM); Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS); Early-onset familial breast cancer syndrome due to BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations; Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer syndrome (HNPCC); and Hereditary pancreatitis.

Risk analysis can help those with a family history of pancreas cancer to determine their own chance of getting the disease. At the Muzzi Mirza Pancreatic Cancer Prevention & Genetics Program, we take into consideration all factors known to contribute to an individual's risk of pancreas cancer, a process known as risk stratification. We analyze personal and family medical history, provide genetic counseling and testing, and recommend imaging of the pancreas with sensitive techniques in order to detect pre-cancerous abnormalities or small cancers that are surgically curable.

Muzzi Mirza Pancreatic Cancer Prevention & Genetics Program Team

Caroline Hwang, MD
Clinical Research Fellow 212.305.9337

Fay Kastrinos
Clinical Director

Mary Kay Dabney, MS
Genetic Counselor 212.305.3701

Elania Levinson
Genetics Consular

Clinical Trials

  1. Pancreatic Cancer Prevention Program Registry and Tissue Bank for High-Risk Individuals
    • The backbone of the Muzzi Mirza Pancreatic Cancer Prevention & Genetics Program, this registry combines deidentified blood and tissue samples with epidemiologic, clinical, and family history data to establish an infrastructure that will allow future clinical, basic, and translational research.
  2. Secretin-Stimulated MRCP as an Early Screening Modality for Pancreatic Ductal Abnormalities in Patients at High Risk for Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma
    • Secretin is a naturally produced hormone that stimulates the pancreas to release pancreatic juices. A secretin-stimulated MRCP may enable better visualization of abnormalities in the pancreatic ducts, where most pancreatic cancers are thought to originate.
  3. Secretin-Stimulation for the Evaluation of Pancreatic Endocrine and Exocrine Function following Surgical Resection for Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma
    • An attempt to understand endocrine and exocrine function in post-operative patients through a non-invasive technique in order to better predict which patients may develop glucose intolerance or diabetes after surgery
  4. Molecular Genetics (BRCA1, BRCA2) and Epidemiology of Pancreatic Cancer in Ashkenazi Jewish Patients
    • Up to 25% of pancreatic cancers have an inherited component. Several gene abnormalities and inherited cancer syndromes have been shown to increase the risk of developing pancreas cancer, including the breast ovary cancer syndrome (BRCA mutations). This study aims to determine the frequency of the three most common BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in Ashkenazi Jewish pancreas cancer patients. We also hope to look for other genetic mutations which may affect pancreas cancer.

If you are interested in enrolling a patient in any one of our open clinical trials, would like a brochure, or more information, please call our Program Coordinator, Ashley Dikos at 212.305.9337

Research Initiatives

We are currently exploring the topics listed below and hope to translate our findings into clinical trials that will benefit our patients in the near future.

  • Germline Mutation of the Rb Tumor Suppressor Gene Causing Pancreatic Cancer
  • Germline Mutation of the p16 Tumor Suppressor Gene (FAMMM Syndrom Variant) Causing Pancreatic Cancer
  • Incidence of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma in Young Individuals with a History of Genetic Syndromic Cancers using the SEER Database
  • PanIN Lesions as a Risk Factor for Local Pancreas Cancer Recurrence