Potential Urine Test for Pancreatic Cancer

Patrick Swayze and Steve Jobs are just two of the famous lives that succumbed to their battle with pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is very rare, affecting around 338,000 people globally. Pancreatic cancer occurs in either of two parts of the pancreas: The exocrine - within channels or ducts of the pancreatic cancer and early diagnosispancreas that produce digestive enzymes, or endocrine, which produces hormones, like insulin that is released in the bloodstream. Tumors of the endocrine pancreas are also referred to as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors – Jobs had this form of cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms are not always distinct, only until the cancer has progressed and is in its advanced stages; around 53% of cases are diagnosed in the late stages and are harder to treat, as the cancer has spread in the body. Surgery is then not an option in the late stages. Furthermore, the survival rate is especially low (1.8%) for patients living 5 years following diagnosis – in comparison to the average 5-year survival rate for all cancer types (3.3%).

Symptoms are non-specific and include weight loss, reduced appetite, blood clots and (upper) abdominal pain – usually in the late stages of pancreatic cancer these symptoms persist or result in jaundice. Those at risk include heavy smokers, family history of cancer, obese individuals and those recently diagnosed with diabetes from 50 years old.

Innovative Diagnosis for Pancreatic Cancer

There is no single test to diagnose pancreatic cancer. Biomarkers or tumor markers in urine may hold the answer to diagnosing early pancreatic cancer: A recent study in the journal Clinical Cancer Research funded by the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, UK proved successful.

The test is non-invasive test and inexpensive - a urine test that detects high levels of three specific proteins - LYVE1, REG1A and TFF1. These proteins were found to be significantly higher in the urine samples of pancreatic cancer patients than all other test subjects combined (healthy, chronic pancreatitis, as well as additional samples from patients with benign and malignant gall bladder and liver conditions).

Combining these three ‘signature’ proteins it may be possible to detect stage I-II pancreatic cancer with up to 90% accuracy. Another added advantage to the test is that it can distinguish between pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis. The test will potentially be available in a few years.

Survival rates of pancreatic cancer will drastically improve if diagnosed early, this test just may be a step in the right direction. Combining research into early diagnostic capabilities and newer and effective treatments for pancreatic cancer may improve the quality of life for many at risk or those with pancreatic cancer. If you experience any of the abovementioned symptoms of pancreatic cancer, contact HMC today for an immediate consultation.

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