A way of detecting pancreatic cancer at its earliest stages has been found

Detecting pancreatic cancer at the earliest stages

Previously, detecting pancreatic cancer has been proven to be difficult and is usually diagnosed very late in the disease progression. However, a newly developed blood test can detect pancreatic cancer in the very earliest stages.

Researchers at Lund University, Sweden, Herlev Hospital, Knight Cancer Center and Immunovia AB, have worked together to develop the revolutionary research, therefore easing the process of detecting pancreatic cancer.

One of the most deadliest types of cancer

Even though pancreatic cancer represents less than 3% of all cancer cases, more people currently die from the disease than breast cancer. By 2030, pancreatic cancer is expected to be the second deadliest type of cancer in the world.

Carl Borrebaeck, professor at the department of immunotechnology at Lund University explains: “our test can detect pancreatic cancer with 96% accuracy at stage 1 and 2, while there is still the possibility of successful surgical intervention.

“There is currently no cure and few treatment options for advanced pancreatic cancer, which is the late stage when pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed”.

The research study used samples from patients in both Denmark and the US, at different stages of the disease.

Evolving the blood test

The blood test was developed on an antibody microarray that consists of hundreds of recombinant antibody fragments. The fragmented antibodies are specific for a number of immune-regulatory proteins, cancer-associated antigens, etc.

As the immune system is the first to respond to the threat of complex diseases, such as cancer, autoimmune diseases and infections, the microarray was designed to mirror this early response.

This provides information about the development of tumours much sooner than it is detected on CT or detected by ctDNA. From those hundreds of markers, 29 markers were selected to detect pancreatic cancer with 96% accuracy at stage 1 and 2.

Looking ahead

In the future, the screening method could possibly be used to screen people who are at a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer, such as those with a hereditary risk, newly onset diabetes patients and patients with chronic inflammation of the pancreas.

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