Making pancreatic cancer survivable is the aim of a number of different studies under way across the globe. With a survival rate of less than 10 percent at the five-year mark, this disease, although not the most common form of cancer, is among the most deadly. A new blood test may make it possible for doctors to more quickly diagnose pancreatic cancer. This, in turn, could pave the way for earlier intervention that could save, or at the very least extend, lives.
The test in question is a simple blood draw. Rather than taking blood from a typical vein, however, it calls for using a portal vein within the gastrointestinal system. This gives doctors the ability to learn more about the pancreas itself with blood that comes directly from the course. The idea behind the test is that pancreatic cancer biomarkers might more readily appear in blood drawn from the source.
To test that theory, researchers from the University of Chicago conducted a study involving 18 patients. The study found that cancerous biomarkers were found in all 18 patients who had suspected pancreatic cancer. Most notably, however, blood draws taken on the same 18 patients from other vein sources only showed tumor cells in four patients in total.
While more work is necessary to prefect the technique and test its ability to detect cancer faster and sooner, the study offers a bright ray of hope. Should the theory hold up to more rigorous scrutiny, it may soon be possible to diagnose pancreatic more effective and much earlier than ever before.
People who are at risk for pancreatic cancer are urged to discuss the topic with their healthcare providers. Early detection methods are problematic at present, but some options are available. Finding this disease as early as possible can lead to lifesaving treatments.