As it stands in the present, pancreatic cancer has one of the bleakest survival rates going. An estimated 49,000 Americans are diagnosed with this disease each year and more than 40,000 die from it. Considered difficult to detect and often more difficult to treat, the disease is one that has long perplexed the medical community in finding a better way to improve patient odds.

Enter a new blood test that may one day be used to measure a particular protein that has been found to be high in pancreatic cancer patients. Researchers have found that particles known as exosomes may serve as tumor indicators for pancreatic cancer or biomarkers for those who are likely to develop the disease. These exosomes, once extracted from blood, can be used to check for genetic abnormalities and cancer-related proteins. The end result of research into the topic is the determination that exosomes may be useful in helping doctors detect and possibly better manage pancreatic cancer.

Those in the medical community who treat patients with pancreatic cancer are calling the findings exciting. While it may take some time to develop the research further to materialize a widely usable blood test, the promise shown in exosomes may help crack the roadblock that detection and treatment of prostate cancer has experienced in the past.

With detection techniques at their present levels, some surgeons suggest that only a small handful of their patients who undergo surgery are brought in for “curative” procedures. In fact, only about 7.3 percent of pancreatic cancer patients live to see the 5-year mark at this time.

Pancreatic cancer patients have long faced bleak outlooks as problematic detection led to delayed treatments. While it may take some time for new testing procedures to come into play, researchers are finding hope on the horizon. Exosomes may deliver that hope.