Étude québécoise sur le cancer du pancréas 
Québec Pancreas Cancer Study
Is family history of cancer a risk factor for pancreas cancer?
 
Most cases of pancreas cancer are thought to be “sporadic”. This means there is usually not a family history of cancer and the risk factors are often not obvious. However, it is estimated that about 10% of pancreas cancer cases are associated with a hereditary factor that increases the risk for cancer. Despite this high incidence of genetic susceptibility relative to other familial cancer syndromes, familial pancreas cancer does not typically present as a uniquely recognizable clinical syndrome and, although a hallmark of cancer syndromes is early age of onset, famillial pancreas cancer cases often present at the same age as sporadic cases. Thus, it is often difficult to identify individuals with a genetic predisposition in the clinic in the absence of a detailed and carefully taken family history.
 
The evidence for hereditary pancreas cancer or “familial pancreas cancer” is based on several studies demonstrating that patients with pancreas cancer are more likely to have a relative affected with pancreas cancer. Since the genes responsible for familial pancreas cancer have not yet been identified, there are no current genetic tests for “familial pancreas cancer”.  However, our research team is part of an international research effort to identify these genes. Participating in our study will help us make progress in these research efforts. In addition, participation of Québec families in these international research studies will ensure that the genetic variations that may be specific to Québec are identified by this research. A complete catalogue of the genetic causes will be important in developing future early detection programs and personalized treatment strategies.  
 
 
In addition to the familial pancreas cancer syndrome, there are other genetic syndromes whose tumour spectrum includes pancreas cancer. These genetic syndromes include, the breast ovarian cancer syndrome (BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2 mutations), hereditary pancreatitis (PRSS1 mutation), hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (MLH1, MSH2 mutations), ataxia-telangiectasia, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (STK11 mutation), and familial atypical multiple-mole melanoma (p16 mutation). Families affected by these syndromes have a stronger family history of certain cancers such as breast, ovarian, melanoma or colorectal cancers. Depending on the details of the family history, some families may be eligible for genetic testing for mutations in the genes that are associated with these genetic syndromes. Since some of these mutations are more common in individuals of specific ancestry, including French-Canadian, Ashkenazi Jewish and Mediterranean ancestries, certain individuals with pancreas cancer may be eligible for specific genetic testing on a research basis even in the absence of a suggestive family history. If you are concerned about your family history of cancer, you should discuss this with your family doctor and we encourage you to contact us using the contact links on this web site. If you are eligible and agree to participate in our study, you will have the opportunity to discuss your family history of cancer with a genetic counsellor.