Pancreatic cancer has one of the grimmest survival rates of all forms of this disease in the United States. It is estimated that some 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with this form of cancer in the coming year. About 43,000 people will lose their lives to this cause.
Researchers are hoping a new breakthrough in early screening technology may soon turn those numbers in a positive direction. The breakthrough in question is a simple blood test that is showing promise in being able to detect pancreatic cancer in its earlier, more treatable stages.
Although still very much under study, the blood test is showing much promise. It focuses in on a particular protein in the blood that tends to over express when pancreatic tumors are present. Researchers have developed a biosensor that enables them to quantify the amount of this protein in the blood to see if pancreatic cancer is likely present. A recent pilot study was conducted to test the viability. The study included a group of healthy people and a sampling of patients confirmed to have pancreatic cancer at varying stages. People with chronic inflammation of the pancreas were also included. The results showed the biosensor was able to successfully identify people with pancreatic cancer, even those in earlier stages of the disease.
While it could still be some time before this test is widely available, the pilot study has paved the way for a larger clinical trial. How soon those results might be available remains unclear.
Pancreatic cancer is considered one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Clinicians have long held that might not be the case if an easier, more accurate way to detect this condition in early stages was available. Whether the new blood test will prove to be that remains to be seen. The pilot study, however, has created great hope that someday soon pancreatic cancer might be more readily treatable courtesy of earlier detection techniques.