Hereditary Pancreatic Cancer

Hereditary Pancreatic Cancer

Every Pancreatic Cancer Patient
Should Consider Genetic Testing

Contributing Writer
Tony Subia

February 22, 2021

Cancer which include pancreatic cancer is caused by genetic mutations.

Each cell in your body has a DNA. That DNA contains genes which instructs your body parts on how to function. In a normal process, normal cells will divide and produce an exact gene copy of themselves. Sometimes, an error occurs in the cell-dividing process which causes a “genetic mutation”.

Gene mutations happen often and the human body corrects most gene mutations. Mutations can be beneficial or harmful depending upon where within a gene the change happens.  However, gene mutations does cause cancer, including pancreatic cancer. There are many types of gene mutations that can have links to specific types of cancer. For example the BRCA gene mutations has direct links to breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

See A List of Gene Mutations and Syndromes Linked To Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer happens from multiple gene mutations over a person’s lifetime which is why most types of cancer occur in the older age groups because there are so many more chances to build-up gene mutations over multiple years.

Gene mutations can be inherited which means the mutations are passed from parents to child at birth. Or they can be caused after birth by elements within our environment, unhealthy habits such as smoking, lack of physical activity, and obesity which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes which is considered a major cause of pancreatic cancer. 

Studies show that 10 to 15% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer carry a genetic mutation associated with an increased predisposed risk of pancreatic cancer or other types of cancer. Therefore, it is crucial that pancreatic cancer patients consider having genetic testing to expose certain gene mutations that could predispose offspring to getting pancreatic cancer during their lifetime.

Read More About Genetic Counseling and Genetic Testing

The Ultimate Goal of Genetic Testing

Speaking with a genetic counselor is highly recommended before getting genetic testing because a counselor can ask pertinent questions that may suggest how in-depth gene mutation testing should be performed. The affordability of gene mutation testing is surprisingly more affordable that most people think. The cost of genetic testing can range from less than $100 and can exceed $2,000 depending on how many different gene mutations are testing for.

Genetic testing empowers people that test positive as a carrier of certain gene mutations to warn and educate other direct family members of their suspected possible risk of carrying a gene mutation that could predispose them of the escalated risk. Those that test positive for specific gene mutations should consider medical surveillance programs that would frequent monitoring any for evidence that cancer may exist.

It is crucial to detect pancreatic or any other type of cancer at the earliest time when it is most treatable. ALL PANCREATIC CANCER PATIENTS SHOULD BE GENETICALLY TESTED.

Why Genetic Testing is So Crucial

Over 90% of the types pancreatic cancers are “Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Cancer (PDAC). It has the worst prognosis of all types of cancers with the lowest average 5-year survival rate of only 10%. Because there is no easy method of early detection, only about 10% of cases are discovered early while the cancer is still confined to the pancreas before it has spread to other areas of the body.

When pancreatic cancer is detected at stage 1 while it is still contained within the pancreas, the average 5-year+ survival rate is 39.4% versus just 2.9% when diagnosed at late stage 4. The overall average 5-year survival rate across all stages is 10% which is the worst survival rate of all types of cancer. As a comparison, the average 5-year survival rate is 89.1%

Pancreatic cancer has now passed breast cancer to become the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths in the America. In 2020, over 57,000 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and over 47,000 died. Pancreatic cancer accounts for almost 8% of all cancer deaths and cases appear to be on the rise. Although the average age at diagnosis is about 70 years-old, it is becoming more and more prevalent among younger ages.

See Our Section On How To Reduce The Risk of Getting Pancreatic cancer

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