Blood Test Offers Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Victims

Posted by Hollie Williams on August 17th, 2017

Pancreatic cancer has one of the most staggeringly low survival rates of all forms of this disease. In the United States alone, it is estimated that some 53,000 people will face down this diagnosis in the coming year. Some 43,000 people will die from the disease. While pancreatic cancer accounts for only about 3 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States, it is responsible for more than 7 percent of all cancer-related deaths.

While clinicians have made tremendous strides in detecting and treating other forms of cancer over the past few decades, pancreatic cancer advances have been virtually non-existent. A relatively new development, however, is hoped to change that. Researchers have developed a blood test that can detect pancreatic cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage.

The blood test is designed to seek out a pair of markers that are found in people who are pancreatic cancer positive. The test has been showed effective at accurately identifying people with early stage pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Although still very much under study, the blood test has been holding up encouragingly well in study. One recent study involved more than 500 people. The study group included those already identified as having pancreatic cancer, healthy patients and people with other pancreatic disorders. Researchers determined the blood screen could pick out the pancreatic cancer patients with a high degree of accuracy, nearly 98 percent.

The development of the blood test is especially exciting for healthcare providers who at present are crippled in their ability to find and treat this cancer early. Pancreatic cancer is known to present with few, if any, symptoms in its early stages. When symptoms do develop, they are often vague and can be easily confused with other conditions. Without a simple screening tool, most cases of pancreatic cancer go undetected until the disease has progressed to later stages. At that point, the prognosis for patients is typically bleak.

How soon the blood test might be made available for more routine use remains unclear. The findings of its accuracy so far, however, are quite encouraging.

People who are at risk for pancreatic cancer or are concerned they may have it are urged to talk with their doctors. Pancreatic cancer risk factors include family history, chronic pancreatitis, obesity and diabetes, among other concerns. Doctors will be able to help patients determine their personal risks and what measures they may take to lower them. Although routine screening is not available for this form of cancer, doctors do have tools available that can help in its detection.

About Author

The Sandler-Kenner Foundation was started by Gregory A. Echt, M.D. and his wife, Susan T. Echt, after they lost two of their dear friends, Michael and Peter, to premature deaths from pancreatic cancer.

Like it? Share it!

Hollie Williams

About the Author

Hollie Williams
Joined: September 18th, 2015
Articles Posted: 25

More by this author