Transforming pancreatic cancer from one of the deadliest forms of this disease into a less terrifying prospect is the focus of much study as of late. With a five-year survival rate at present that is less than 10 percent, much work remains to be done. According to the American Cancer Society, about 53,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year. An estimated 43,000 die from the cause. Developing a reliable, accurate tool for early detection, many experts say, could push those numbers in a much more positive direction.
As it stands currently, pancreatic cancer is an extremely difficult disease to detected. This is partially due to the location of the pancreas deep inside the body. This fact is complicated by the reality that pancreatic cancer tends to present with no symptoms initially. If symptoms are present, they tend to be very vague and quite easy to link to a long list of other possible causes.
While a reliable tool for early screening like those used for prostate and breast cancer is not yet available, this prospect is the focus of much research. One ongoing study involves the use of a blood test that is able to detect biomarkers that have been linked to pancreatic cancer. This detection tool was able to find early stage pancreatic cancer in a whopping 90 percent of patients who took part in a recent pilot study. That study, however, included fewer than 60 patients. Although still a way off from being green lighted for more widespread use, the blood test could be a game changer in the detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
People who are at risk for the development of pancreatic cancer are urged to speak with their doctors about prevention and symptoms to watch for. Early detection of this form of cancer is considered critical for improving the potential for a positive outcome.