Hackensack University Medical Center has launched an innovative surveillance program that screens individuals who are at high-risk for developing familial or hereditary pancreatic cancer. This new initiative is the first of its kind in New Jersey and patients who are eligible will receive both an imaging test and a recently approved biomarker test that measures the immune system’s response to diseases in the blood.
Biomarker testing is a way to look for genes, proteins, and other substances that can provide information about cancer. Each person’s cancer has a unique pattern of biomarkers. Some biomarkers affect how certain cancer treatments work.
The pancreas is a small organ in the abdomen that produces insulin and other important enzymes to promote the digestion of food and the regulation of blood sugar. Pancreatic cancer is often called the silent killer, and with good reason – most patients don’t experience symptoms until the cancer is big enough to impact the surrounding organs. Even then, the symptoms are often vague which is why this testing is so important.
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 56,770 Americans will receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis this year alone. This type of cancer accounts for nearly 80% of all cancer-related deaths in the United States, making it one of the most lethal forms of malignant diseases.
According to Dr. Rosario Ligresti, chief of Gastroenterology at Hackensack University Medical Center, the incidence of pancreas cancer has been significantly rising since 2000, especially in women younger than 55.
“Pancreas cancer is predicted to become the second-leading cause of cancer death in the world by 2030, overtaking colon cancer,” explains Ligresti. “We absolutely need a better way to screen for it.”
Patients are encouraged to speak with their doctors to see if they meet the criteria to be considered for the screening. Those who are qualified can make an appointment quickly and will typically be seen within one week.
Screenings are available one morning each week at Hackensack University Medical Center between the hours of 9 AM and 12 PM and will run from April 1, 2022 to September 30, 2022.
For an appointment call 551.996.3091.
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