HUMC offers innovative new screening option for patients at high risk for pancreatic cancer

Hackensack University Medical Center launched an innovative surveillance program that screens individuals who are at high risk for developing pancreatic cancer.

The IMMray PanCan-d Test is the first blood test on the market dedicated to the early detection of familial or hereditary pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, or PDAC.

Patients who are eligible will receive both an imaging test and a novel biomarker test that measures the immune system’s response to pancreatic disease in the blood.

“The earlier cancer is detected, the better the chance of successful treatment,” Dr. Rosario Ligresti, chief of gastroenterology at Hackensack University Medical Center, said. Ligresti is part of the National Pancreas Foundation Center of Excellence, where this new initiative is offered as part of the hospital’s high-risk surveillance program for pancreatic cancer.

Unfortunately, studies show only about a quarter of people who qualify for high-risk surveillance actually take advantage of it, but Ligresti believes this new blood test will be a game changer.

“Pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest of cancers, is difficult to detect early, at a stage when surgical resection, the only curative therapy, is possible,” Ligresti explains. “This new test has been shown to detect early stage pancreatic cancer in high-risk patients, with the goal of catching it before it has the chance to spread to other tissues.”

Who qualifies for this new pancreas cancer surveillance?

Pancreas cancer screening is very important in the following high-risk groups. Any patient older than the age of 18 with:

  • BRCA mutation;
  • Cystic fibrosis;
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis;
  • Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma;
  • Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer or Lynch syndrome;
  • Hereditary pancreatitis;
  • PALB2 mutation;
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome;
  • Family history of pancreas cancer in two first-degree relatives.

What is the screening protocol?

Patients will have a comprehensive consultation with Ligresti. They will then have the IMMray PanCan-d Test as well as an MRI or ultrasound performed. Once all the results are available, they will meet with Ligresti to review them and the plan for continued surveillance. This is usually done annually.