This simple test could detect pancreatic cancer early

In a new study, a urine test that can detect early-stage pancreatic cancer has reached the final stage of validation before being developed for use with patients.

If successful, this non-invasive urine test would be the first in the world to help clinicians detect the highly lethal cancer at an early stage.

It will enable many more people to have surgery to remove their tumor, which is currently the only potentially curative treatment.

The research was conducted by a team from the Queen Mary University of London.

Nearly 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the UK. Only around 5 in every 100 patients will live for 5 years or more beyond their diagnosis.

This is the lowest survival rate of any common cancer and it has barely improved in over 40 years.

The low survival rate is partly due to late diagnosis—more than 85% of patients are diagnosed too late for surgery and treatment options for these patients are limited. Most will die within 6-12 months.

The new test works by measuring levels of three specific proteins found in urine that were identified as biomarkers of early-stage pancreatic cancer.

The biomarkers have been shown to detect early-stage pancreatic cancer with nearly 95% accuracy in urine samples from pancreatic cancer patients, patients with other diseases of the pancreas and healthy volunteers.

The study will now further validate these protein biomarkers in a clinical setting with over 3,000 people.

If the clinical study confirms the accuracy of the biomarkers, a standardized urine test will be developed for clinicians to use as a diagnostic aid.

The team says because symptoms of pancreatic cancer are vague and often mistaken for less lethal conditions, being able to rule in or rule out pancreatic cancer much more quickly would be a major step forward in speeding up the diagnostic pathway.

It would mean that many more patients would be eligible for surgery or could start other treatment much sooner.

The lead author of the study is Professor Tatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic of Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London.

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