Can Pancreatic Cancer Be Inherited?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 1, 2016

3d rendered illustration of the male pancreas

Familial pancreatic cancer refers to families in which at least three members, or two or more individuals who are first-degree relatives of one another, have been diagnosed with the disease.

Most cases of pancreatic cancer develop for unknown reasons, but about 10 percent occur in families that have a strong history of the disease. That doesn’t mean that if you are a member of such a family you will develop pancreatic cancer, but rather that you are at a higher risk for it.

“Research has shown that familial pancreatic cancer is not as rare as we had thought,” says Dr. Matthew Yurgelun, a specialist in the Pancreas and Biliary Tumor Center and the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

Pancreatic cancer, which is often deadly, is diagnosed in about 53,000 people in the United States each year. Factors such as older age, smoking, and obesity increase the risk.

Familial pancreatic cancer, or FPC, refers to families in which at least three members, or two or more individuals who are first-degree relatives (a parent, child, or sibling) of one another, have been diagnosed with the disease. Healthy individuals in such families have an increased risk of developing the cancer during their lifetimes – several times higher than the 1.3 percent lifetime risk for non-familial pancreatic cancer.

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Colorectal Cancer Prevention: Five Things You Need to Know

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 8, 2016

Jeffrey Meyerhardt

Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt

Contributor: Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, is clinical director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

While one of the most common cancers in both men and women, colorectal cancer remains a very preventable disease, explains Dr. Meyerhardt.

“Most of these cancers develop over a period of years,” said Dr. Meyerhardt. “While not preventable in everyone, the earlier you detect the disease, the more curable it is.”

Below are five tips from Dr. Meyerhardt on ways to reduce your risk.

1. Live a healthy lifestyle.

“There are various dietary factors that play a role in colorectal cancer,” explained Dr. Meyerhardt. “The one that’s the most consistently shown in studies is red and processed meat.” To lower your risk, Dr. Meyerhardt recommends eating fewer than two servings of red or processed meat per week. This includes foods such as steak, hamburgers, and hot dogs.

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