Research Strategies for Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer

Posted by Hollie Williams on July 1st, 2019

Early detection of pancreatic cancer increases survival. Until now, there has been no established method to find the disease early. This is because the pancreas' location in the body makes it hard for health care providers to locate early tumors during physical examination. Eligible patients undergo surgery for their long-term survival. But most of them get diagnosed late when surgery is no longer an option.

Here are some of the early detection efforts for pancreatic cancer made by researchers:

  • Finding tumor biomarkers – Biomarkers are found in a person’s body fluids, including saliva and blood. They can be measured at different levels. People with unusual levels of biomarkers are usually found to have a disease. Biomarkers can help to diagnose and monitor pancreatic cancer and provide guidance to the best treatment option for each patient.

    Researchers are working to find biomarkers that can assist in distinguishing patients with undiagnosed pancreatic cancer from those unaffected. The test will be proven for high accuracy in large populations.

  • Improving imaging for pancreatic cancer – Imaging can help doctors to diagnose and monitor pancreatic cancer and determine whether surgery is a viable treatment option for the tumor.

    Research is underway to create ways of accurately imaging the pancreas and also improve the standard imaging methods currently in use. The new imaging techniques will help to detect pancreatic cancer in early stages.

  • Studying pancreatic cancer patients at high risk – The risk factors for pancreatic cancer include chronic pancreatitis, smoking, longstanding diabetes, obesity, and family history of the disease.

    People at high risk can help improve the outcomes for future patients and even those currently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They can work with researchers and oncologists to better understand the cancer and how it develops by taking part in scientific studies and sharing their data.

  • Studying the link between pancreatic cancer and diabetes – Patients diagnosed with new-onset diabetes in old age have become an interest to researchers. Studies indicate that people who develop diabetes after the age of 50 are likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three years after the diabetes diagnosis. It is presumed that their diabetes is caused by a pancreatic tumor that is undiagnosed.

    Researchers are finding ways to differentiate the patients with new-onset diabetes who are most likely to have pancreatic cancer and identify and study the disease at early stages.

    Pancreatic cancer is rare, and most patient cases are sporadic, or they have no known cause. The disease manifests no symptoms until the tumor has grown and spread to other organs. Scientists are working tirelessly to find early detection methods for pancreatic cancer.


Hollie Williams

About the Author

Hollie Williams
Joined: December 24th, 2017
Articles Posted: 25

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