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Breakthrough Blood Test Shows Promise in Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancers

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Pancreatic cancer, notorious for its late diagnosis and low survival rates, may soon encounter a formidable adversary: a groundbreaking blood test boasting up to 97% accuracy in detecting early-stage malignancies, a recent study reveals.

Developed by a team of researchers, this innovative test scans for a combination of eight small RNA particles and eight larger DNA markers, collectively forming a unique genetic "signature" specific to pancreatic cancer.

Detecting pancreatic cancer in its early stages has long been a challenge due to its deep-seated location in the abdomen and symptoms often mimicking those of other ailments. Consequently, the majority of cases are diagnosed only after the cancer has metastasized, significantly diminishing treatment options and survival rates.

Senior researcher Ajay Goel, chair of molecular diagnostics and experimental therapeutics at City of Hope Cancer Center, underscores the urgency of early detection, emphasizing that the five-year survival rate for early-stage pancreatic cancer stands at a promising 44%, in stark contrast to a dismal 3% survival rate once the cancer has spread.

Preliminary trials of the blood test yielded encouraging results, with a detection rate of 98% among a cohort of 95 patients from the United States and Japan. The latest trial, a more extensive endeavor encompassing 523 pancreatic cancer patients and 461 healthy individuals from various regions including Japan, the United States, South Korea, and China, further solidifies its potential.

Key findings from the trial include:

  • Detection of 93% of pancreatic cancers among participants from the United States.
  • Detection of 91% of pancreatic cancers among South Korean participants.
  • Detection of 88% of pancreatic cancers in the Chinese group.

Moreover, when combined with an established pancreatic cancer marker known as CA 19-9, the blood test's accuracy soared to 97% in identifying stage 1 and 2 cancers among U.S. participants. Stage 1 cancers are confined to the organ, while stage 2 cancers have spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Goel emphasizes the superiority of this combined approach, dubbing it a "liquid biopsy test" that outshines traditional CA 19-9 measurement in detecting early-stage disease.

Despite these promising results, researchers caution that further validation is essential before widespread implementation of the test in clinical practice. The trial results were slated for presentation at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting, underscoring the preliminary nature of the findings until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

In the battle against pancreatic cancer, this innovative blood test represents a ray of hope, offering the potential for earlier detection and improved outcomes for patients worldwide.


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