Pancreatic cancer is a tricky disease; often it grows quietly and isn’t discovered until it’s too late. Even when caught early, it usually has already spread cells around the body, making it hard to treat.
That’s why doctors are eager to find new ways to catch it as early as possible. A team at Duke Health may have found a new way to do just that.
The Biomarker Breakthrough
This team, led by Dr. Peter Allen, focused on little growths called cysts that can appear on the pancreas. Most of the time, these cysts are harmless, but sometimes they can turn into cancer. Knowing which is which can be a lifesaver.
To make this important distinction, the team used a cutting-edge technique called digital spatial RNA profiling. Without getting too technical, this tool lets scientists look really closely at certain cells in the cysts.
The researchers discovered that there are certain ‘markers,’ or clues, in the cyst cells that could tell us whether the cysts are likely to turn cancerous.
Previous methods could only guess this with about 60% accuracy, but this new approach could be a game-changer.
Dr. Allen explained that if they could identify these markers in the fluid of the cyst, it could lead to a sort of ‘liquid biopsy.’
This would help doctors decide if they should remove the cyst before it turns into cancer. This is crucial because pancreatic cancer is becoming more common, and it’s still not clear why.
Future Steps and Hope
Besides this, the Duke team is also looking into the role of inflammation in pancreatic cancer. They’re running a clinical trial to see if anti-inflammatory therapy could help keep these cysts from turning cancerous.
This is early-stage research, but it offers a ray of hope. Dr. Allen and his team are working hard to make sure their findings can be used to help patients as soon as possible.
They believe that by focusing on these precancerous cysts, they might prevent a hard-to-treat disease from developing in the first place.
If you care about health, please read studies that eating peanut too much may increase risk of cancer spread, and new drug combo that could help treat pancreatic cancer.
For more information about cancer, please see recent studies that yogurt and high-fiber diet may cut lung cancer risk, and results showing that new cancer treatment may reawaken the immune system.
The study was published in Science Advances.
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