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Written By THT Editorial Team

Dr. Asmita Pandey

Reviewed by Dr. Asmita Rayamajhi, Consultant Oncologist, M.D.

Pancreatic cancer is a tough and dangerous type of cancer that’s hard to treat and often doesn’t have a good outcome. But there’s good news: a group of experts from around the world is working hard to create a new program that will help doctors find this cancer early, which could save many lives.

The group called PRECEDE is leading a project that shows how finding pancreatic cancer early could help more people survive it. Right now, not many people survive this cancer worldwide—only about 12 out of 100 do (. Rawla, Sunkara, & Gaduputi, 2019). But if it’s found early, more than 80 out of 100 could survive, especially if they can have surgery. Sadly, most people find out they have this cancer too late when it’s already spread too much. ((MUHC News, 2024)

PRECEDE is working on a better way to keep an eye on people who are more likely to get pancreatic cancer because of their personal or family health history. Dr. George Zogopoulos and his team are focusing on how to check these high-risk people more effectively, especially if they have relatives who had pancreatic cancer or they have genes that could make them get cancer. (fortner, 2024 )

The study shows that people who have a high chance of getting pancreatic cancer are really good at following advice on getting checked. These checks can be done well in places that specialize in health care. This proves that PRECEDE can use this method of checking for cancer all over the world and gather information to learn more and get better at watching for signs of cancer in patients. (MUHC News, 2024)

 Based on their findings, the researchers suggest putting people who might get pancreatic cancer into three groups. These groups are for people who have a family history of the disease, those who have a genetic mutation that could cause cancer, or those who have both these risk factors. If someone is worried they might be at risk for pancreatic cancer, they can join the PRECEDE program and go to one of its centers in North America or Europe to get checked and learn more about their risk.

The study found that people who are at high risk for pancreatic cancer just because of their family history are more likely to have cysts in their pancreas than those who have a genetic change known to cause cancer but no family history. These cysts might mean that these individuals could be more likely to develop pancreatic cancer as time goes by. This could happen either because the cysts themselves change or because the cysts are a sign that the pancreas is more likely to develop problems that could turn into cancer. Zogopoulos et al., 2024)

We need more time to watch and see if having family members with pancreatic cancer means a person is more likely to get it themselves, compared to just having a gene change that can cause cancer Zogopoulos et al., 2024). The study points out that even though it’s been hard to set up big screening programs for people at high risk of pancreatic cancer, it’s possible to do this kind of research with many centers working together across different countries. The first results from the scans in this study show that we need to keep researching how to find pancreatic cancer early. (Fortner, 2024).

Besides other methods, artificial intelligence tools are helping a lot in the battle against pancreatic cancer. One of these programs was able to pick out the people who were most likely to get pancreatic cancer, up to three years before they were actually diagnosed, just by looking at their health records Pesheva, 2023).This big step forward in being able to predict health issues was made possible by researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Copenhagen working together with the VA Boston Healthcare System, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Using AI to check for pancreatic cancer could really change how we find and treat this illness. It’s a way that doesn’t hurt, doesn’t cost much, and is really good at spotting people who might have it (Huang et al., 2022). For example, AI can look very closely at CT scans and MRIs to find tiny signs of cancer that people might not notice (Katta et al., 2023). It can also help figure out if cysts in the pancreas might turn into cancer later on. (Jiang, Chao, Culp, & Krishna, 2023)

At the same time, AI is also changing the way we look for signs of pancreatic cancer in blood tests. It can find special markers in the blood that might mean someone has pancreatic cancer and understand complicated genetic information to figure out who might be more likely to get the disease (Tripathi et al., 2024). Another thing AI does well is look through lots of health records to find hidden patterns that show who might be at risk. This helps doctors decide who really needs to be checked for pancreatic cancer. (Tripathi et al., 2024)

The important parts of using AI in checking for pancreatic cancer—like looking at images, finding markers in the blood, and studying health records—are all connected. They’re part of a big plan that uses AI to make sure we find pancreatic cancer early and accurately. This could help patients get better treatment sooner and have a better chance of surviving.

The work that PRECEDE is doing, together with the use of AI, gives us a lot of hope for how we’ll be able to handle pancreatic cancer in the future. Creating a strong program to watch for this cancer isn’t just about science; it’s also a sign of hope for people who might get pancreatic cancer. It shows how working together across countries and never giving up on finding new solutions can make a big difference, even when things are tough.

The ongoing research is bringing us closer to the goal of making pancreatic cancer something we can treat instead of something that can’t be cured. The hard work and commitment of the scientists, doctors, nurses, and patients involved in this research are what’s making this progress possible. If we keep supporting and funding research that helps us detect pancreatic cancer early, we might reach a time when this disease isn’t so scary anymore.

In the end, the work being done by a global team to watch for pancreatic cancer is a huge leap in fighting this illness. The PRECEDE research and the use of AI show us what the future could look like, where we can find and stop pancreatic cancer early. We still have a long way to go in this fight, but these new tools make us more ready than ever to face it. The research that keeps going on is very important, and everyone is watching and hoping as we head into a new time of dealing with pancreatic cancer.


  1. Rawla P, Sunkara T, Gaduputi V. Epidemiology of Pancreatic Cancer: Global Trends, Etiology and Risk Factors. World J Oncol. 2019 Feb;10(1):10-27. doi: 10.14740/wjon1166. Epub 2019 Feb 26. PMID: 30834048; PMCID: PMC6396775.
  2. MUHC News. (2024, April 18). New findings illustrate pathway for screening high-risk individuals for pancreatic cancer. Montreal University Health Centre. https://muhc.ca/news-and-patient-stories/research/new-findings-illustrate-pathway-screening-high-risk-pancreatic
  3. Fortner, C. (2024, April 18). Montreal study examines screening approach to grow pancreatic cancer survival odds. CityNews Montreal. Retrieved from https://montreal.citynews.ca/2024/04/18/montreal-study-pancreatic-cancer-survival-odds/
  4. Zogopoulos, G., Haimi, I., Sanoba, S. A., Everett, J. N., Wang, Y., Katona, B. W., … & the PRECEDE Consortium. (2024). The Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection (PRECEDE) Study is a Global Effort to Drive Early Detection: Baseline Imaging Findings in High-Risk Individuals. Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 22(3). https://doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2023.7097
  5. Pesheva, E. (2023, May 8). AI predicts future pancreatic cancer. Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from https://hms.harvard.edu/news/ai-predicts-future-pancreatic-cancer
  6. Huang B, Huang H, Zhang S, Zhang D, Shi Q, Liu J, Guo J. Artificial intelligence in pancreatic cancer. Theranostics. 2022 Oct 3;12(16):6931-6954. doi: 10.7150/thno.77949. PMID: 36276650; PMCID: PMC9576619.
  7. Katta, M.R., Kalluru, P.K.R., Bavishi, D.A., et al. (2023). Artificial intelligence in pancreatic cancer: Diagnosis, limitations, and the future prospects—a narrative review. Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology, 149(8), 6743–6751. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00432-023-04625-1
  8. Jiang J, Chao WL, Culp S, Krishna SG. Artificial Intelligence in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Pancreatic Cystic Lesions and Adenocarcinoma. Cancers (Basel). 2023 Apr 22;15(9):2410. doi: 10.3390/cancers15092410. PMID: 37173876; PMCID: PMC10177524.
  9. Tripathi, S., Tabari, A., Mansur, A., Dabbara, H., Bridge, C. P., & Daye, D. (2024). From machine learning to patient outcomes: A comprehensive review of AI in pancreatic cancer. Diagnostics, 14(2), 174. https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics14020174