A group of scientists from Duke Health has made an important discovery.
They have found certain biological markers that can help identify whether cysts on the pancreas are likely to turn into cancer or not.
This is the first step towards developing a clinical approach for classifying pancreatic lesions that are at high risk of becoming cancerous. This study could help doctors remove them before they start to spread.
In the study, the biomarker-based approach is aimed at addressing the biggest challenge in reducing the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer often grows silently and is discovered incidentally during abdominal scans. Even when it is detected early, it usually spreads to other parts of the body, and the cancer returns.
Current diagnostic strategies for pancreatic cancer have an overall accuracy of approximately 60%.
Pancreatic cancer is on the rise, and if the current trend continues, it will become the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States in the next few years.
This is why the scientists shifted their focus to precancerous cysts, called intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs). Identifying which IPMNs will progress to cancer can prevent an incurable disease from developing.
The scientists used a sophisticated molecular biology tool called digital spatial RNA profiling to analyze specific areas of the cyst with high- and low-grade areas of abnormal cell growth.
This allowed them to find genetic mutations that both fuel and potentially suppress pancreatic cancer development.
The team also identified markers for discriminating between the two leading variants of IPMN and found distinct markers for defining a third common variant that generally results in less aggressive disease.
The team is now focusing on finding these markers in the cyst fluid.
If they can identify these unique markers in the cyst fluid, it could provide the basis for a protein biopsy that would guide doctors on whether they should remove the cyst before the cancer develops and spreads.
Some studies suggest that inflammation plays a role in the development of pancreatic cancer.
This research is an important step towards reducing the incidence of pancreatic cancer and improving the chances of survival for patients who develop the disease.
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If you care about cancer, please read studies about new vaccine to prevent pancreatic cancer, and two drugs can reverse a key step in pancreatic cancer.
For more information about cancer risk, please see recent studies about drug that can strengthen immune system to fight cancer, and results showing Aspirin may boost survival in these cancers.
The study was conducted by Matthew K. Iyer et al and published in Science Advances.
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