As pancreatic cancer remains one of the deadliest forms of this disease known to man, researchers have been working feverishly to improve early screening protocols. As it is in other forms of cancer, early detection can lead to successful treatment. For those with pancreatic cancer, however, a lack of an early screening test coupled with no or few early-onset symptoms makes catching this disease in beginning stages almost impossible. Researchers believe they may have found a way to screen one of the highest risk population groups: new-onset diabetics.

Researchers say a combination of biomarkers may offer insights to build a noninvasive screening tool for pancreatic cancer as it related to new-onset diabetics. Since type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer may go hand-in-hand, the screen may provide a way to target the disease in its earlier forms. The test involves looking for certain biomarkers that appear to be significantly raised in diabetics who also have pancreatic cancer. The levels were not elevated in patients with diabetes who did not have pancreatic cancer. The potential is seen as especially promising since new-onset diabetes and pancreatic cancer tend to occur together.

While the screening procedure involving diabetic biomarkers remains very much under study, the prospect is very encouraging. Should the biomarkers stand up to clinical study, they may one day enable doctors to catch pancreatic cancer in its earlier, more treatable forms in diabetics at least. This could open the door for a much greater chance of survival.

Pancreatic cancer affects an estimated 53,000 Americans each year. Some 41,000 people die from the disease annually in the United States. Early detection is considered key to survival, but finding this disease in its earliest stages at present is difficult at best. People who are diagnosed with diabetes will find they are at much higher risk for this rare form of cancer than others. It is recommended that people concerned about pancreatic cancer and their risks speak with a healthcare professional. A personal doctor can assess risks and offer insights about the disease, prevention and if, and when, screening should occur. While a simple biomarker screen isn’t current available, doctors do have tools that can help them identify pancreatic cancer in patients considered high risk.