Pancreatic cancer isn’t one of the most regularly diagnosed forms of the disease, but it’s among the deadliest. With a five-year survival rate that’s measured in single percentage digits, this disease is often a death sentence for those who develop it. One of the biggest reasons behind the bleak figures happens to be a current lack of early screening protocols. The simple fact is, pancreatic cancer is very hard to detect when it is in an early, more treatable stage. This is complicated by the reality that earlier forms of the disease tend to present with no real symptoms making it highly unlikely a doctor would order screening.
Enter a possible new way to find this disease in its earlier, more treatable stages. Researchers at Barts Cancer Institute at Queen Mary University of London say they have developed a possible urine test that may lead to earlier detection of the disease. The test is based on a three-protein signature that is found in the urine of those with pancreatic cancer. While still in its development phases, researchers say the test so far can has been determined to provide early warning for the disease with 90 percent accuracy.
The need for an early detection method has long been present and the figures surrounding the disease support that. People are normally diagnosed at present when the disease is terminal. If it is caught in stage 2, however, the survival rate goes up to 20 percent. In stage one, the chances of survival are about 60 percent.
While more work needs to be done, the London researchers say it is their hope to develop a low-cost test that can be used in clinical settings. The test may be available in only a few years if additional research continues to show its benefits.
People who are at risk for pancreatic cancer are urged to speak with their healthcare providers. This disease is silent in its earliest stages, but understanding risk may help lead to earlier intervention should the disease present.