About 10 percent of pancreatic cancers are considered hereditary. To help guide treatment, genetic testing is recommended for all people who have pancreatic cancer, regardless of their family history with this or other type of cancers. Genetic counselors at the Pancreatic Cancer Center, part of NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, spoke with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network about how to use holiday family gatherings as a jumping-off point to discuss genetic counseling, family medical histories, and what to do if a genetic test reveals a high risk for developing pancreatic cancer.
“If you have had genetic testing or are thinking about having it, as genetic counselors we encourage you to share that decision with your family as quickly as possible,” says Jessica N. Everett, MS, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “Often, I will tell my patients, especially if they are anxious about bringing up the topic with family, to talk more generally about testing and even ask them how they would feel about having it done.”
“Make sure you are following the same lifestyle recommendations for living a healthy life in general,” says Shenin Dettwyler, MS, a genetics counselor at the Pancreatic Cancer Center. “Maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, and limit your red meat and alcohol intake.”
Read more from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.