The EUROPAC study of family risk

Professor William Greenhalf
Location: University of Liverpool
Project status: Ongoing

The challenge

Most cases of pancreatic cancer do not run in families. However, like many cancers, some pancreatic cancers are inherited. This is due to changes in certain genes which make you more likely to develop cancer.

We know that around 1 in 10 pancreatic cancers run in families. If more than one member of your family has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you could be at higher risk. You could also be at increased risk if you have hereditary pancreatitis or a rare genetic condition such as Lynch syndrome that makes you more likely to develop a number of cancers.

The project

The European Register of Hereditary Pancreatitis and Familial Pancreatic Cancer (EUROPAC) study is investigating pancreatic cancer that runs in families, as well as hereditary pancreatitis. Researchers hope that learning more about the genetic causes of pancreatic cancer will help to understand how and why pancreatic cancer develops and allow people who are at higher risk to be monitored to detect pancreatic cancer at an early stage.

People who are eligible to take part in this study are asked to provide a detailed family history and blood samples. Those who are thought to be at highest risk may be offered annual scans to check for any changes to their pancreas.

The hope

Early detection saves lives. Identifying people who are at increased risk of pancreatic cancer and offering them regular monitoring would allow any changes to the pancreas to be identified and treated as early as possible.