Leading experts representing various research specialties, clinical practice arenas, and scientific fields convened for the Early Detection of Sporadic Pancreatic Cancer Summit Conference on November 4-5, 2014, in Hawaii. Presented by Kenner Family Research Fund and the American Pancreatic Association, this interdisciplinary summit was an intensive forum focused on creating a strategic innovation map to improve early detection of pancreatic cancer. The summit occurred prior to the Joint Meeting of the American Pancreatic Association (APA) and Japan Pancreas Society (JPS).

Before the summit, participants were divided into four distinct expert partnerships:

  • Case for Early Detection: Definitions, Detection, Challenges, and Survival
  • Biomarkers for Early Detection
  • Imaging
  • Collaborative Studies

Each group prepared a pre-summit analysis of their field in a foundational paper. These papers provided an in-depth collection of information articulating the current efforts in the field, the analysis of gaps in each of four specific areas of expertise, and the challenges that exist in early detection. The necessity for an early detection protocol for pancreatic cancer was supported by data related to the current low survival rate and the expectation that pancreatic cancer will become the second most common cause of cancer deaths as early as 2020.

Guided strategic conversations among the invited participants were robust and led to new ideas for ongoing scientific collaboration and the formulation of an initial strategic map for innovation. The summit participants proposed specific recommendations including: screening asymptomatic individuals; restricting screening to enriched high risk groups; the development of biomarkers of PanIN3 and early invasive pancreatic cancer; and novel imaging approaches. The ideal biomarker was defined as being highly sensitive (universally present on PanIN3 and curable pancreatic cancer), specific (absent in patients with pancreatitis or without neoplasia), rapid, inexpensive, easy to perform, and an easily obtainable assay. A priority concern of the summit participants was that validating “promising” biomarkers is currently limited due to a lack of suitable bio-specimens and the small number of early-stage pancreatic cancers identified.

Summit participants were clear in stating that the science, technology, and individual excellence needed for progress in the early detection field exists currently. Consensus support was developed for the expressed need for collaboration and leadership for team science in research and “cross-pollination” among disciplines and institutions.

An initial strategic innovation map founded upon committed interdisciplinary collaboration was formulated as a result of this inaugural summit conference. Three priorities emerged from the summit:

  1. Form a collaborative consortium with formalized leadership and committed members
  2. Design a comprehensive actionable strategic pathway
  3. Define operational standards, research goals and first phase initiatives

Each of these priorities involve further exploration and planning. Establishing a committed formalized leadership structure to guide a consortium effort and implement the strategic innovation map is critical. Engaging key stakeholders, facilitating collaborative studies, and developing long term funding strategies are also essential steps for achieving the overarching vision of decreasing mortality through early detection.

The summit results were reported during a special symposium Innovations in Early Detection of Sporadic Pancreatic Cancer, on November 7, 2014 at the general American Pancreatic Association/Japan Pancreas Society annual meeting. The session was highlighted by the presentation of critical elements of the pre-summit paper, the summit proceedings, and the initial strategic innovation map for the field.

A more detailed Strategic Map for Innovation was prepared from a complete analysis and synthesis of the summit findings. The strategic map also includes a framework for the development of a business plan, a process to define stakeholders, a plan for the establishment of leadership, a design for organizational structure, an evaluation process for selection of early partnerships, and proposed funding priorities.

Two landmark articles were published in the journal Pancreas in May, 2015. The first article, “Early Detection of Sporadic Pancreatic Cancer: Summative Review,” is an expansion of the pre-summit paper, providing a comprehensive review of the major fields impacting the development of early detection methods. Additional digital-only information was published as the “Familial Pancreatic Cancer Supplemental Digital Content.” A white paper, “Early Detection of Sporadic Pancreatic Cancer: Strategic Map for Innovation,” details the pathway for innovation designed from a complete analysis of the summit findings.

The video briefly summarizes the conference.