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Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is a large organ behind the stomach. It makes and releases enzymes into the intestines that help the body digest and absorb food, especially fats. The pancreas also makes and releases insulin and glucagon. These are hormones that help the body control blood sugar levels.

The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown. It is more common in people who:

  • Are obese
  • Have a diet high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables
  • Have diabetes
  • Have long-term exposure to certain chemicals
  • Have long-term inflammation of the pancreas (chronic pancreatitis)
  • Smoke

The risk for pancreatic cancer increases with age. Family history of the disease also slightly increases the chance of developing this cancer.

Genetic Counseling

Genetic counselor is a health care professional with a master’s degree in human genetics and counseling. Genetic counseling is a service that helps patients understand the medical, psychological, and familial impact of genetic disease.

Our board-certified genetic counselor is trained to identify high-risk families and help them understand their risk of developing pancreatic cancer as well as their options for prevention, early detection and treatment.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing helps patients and their families learn more about genes. Genetic testing looks for variations in genes that might lead to disease. Genetic testing is done for a variety of reasons, such as confirming a disease you are suspected to have or understanding the cause of a disease that runs in your family. It can help you understand your individual risk.

Genetic testing may be appropriate if:

  • You or a family member have had pancreatic cancer
  • You or a family member have had an early onset of pancreatic cancer (diagnosed prior to age 50)
  • You or a family member have been diagnosed with two different cancers or two separate cancer in the same organ
  • Multiple family members on the same side of your family with pancreatic cancer
  • You have had 10 or more colorectal polyps found during your colonoscopies
  • You have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
  • You have a family member who tested positive for a genetic variant related to pancreatic cancer risk

What To Expect At Your Appointment

A blood or saliva sample will be collected either at your physician's office or in the comfort of your home. Our genetic counselor and your physician will review results with you.

Meet Our Genetic Counselor

Sarah Khan, MS, CGC

Sarah Khan, MS, CGC

Sarah is a board-certified Genetic Counselor in Hematology/Oncology. She graduated from the University of Texas MD Anderson program in 2018. Before moving to Jacksonville, Sarah started the Cancer Genetics Program at Mary Greeley Hospital in central Iowa. She loves that her job allows her to support patients through their diagnosis and empower them to make informed genetic testing decisions.

Contact Us

For more information about scheduling a genetic counseling session, you can:

  • Call 904-427-8600, or
  • Speak with your healthcare provider about a referral

Related Services

The UF Health Jacksonville Cancer Center offers the following services related to pancreatic cancer: