Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to screen people at high genetic risk for pancreatic cancer might help spot tumors early, according to new research. The findings were published in JAMA Surgery.

Marco Del Chiaro, M.D., Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues used MRI to screen 40 patients (24 women and 16 men), average age 50, with a high genetic risk for pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic tumors were found in 16 (40 percent) of the patients. Five of them had surgery and the other 35 remain under surveillance.

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The use of noninvasive MRI might someday be an effective, cost-effective means of spotting pancreatic cancer early, the authors speculate.

However, “because of the small number of patients and the divergent results, this study did not allow evaluation of the efficacy of MRI as a single screening modality,” the authors write.


  1. Chiaro, Marco Del, MD, PhD, et al. “Short-term Results of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging–Based Swedish Screening Program for Individuals at Risk for Pancreatic Cancer.” JAMA Surgery. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.3852. April 8, 2015.