A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported a new method that identifies the pancreatic cancer’s visible precursors with 97% certainty and may aid in the early discovery of cancer and minimize the risk of unnecessary surgery in the future. Currently poor prognosis of survival from pancreatic cancer is due to late detection.
Researchers have discovered that fluid filled cysts in the pancreas found in about one in every person above age 70 and common in younger people can be discovered with computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), However, these techniques cannot determine which cysts are precursors to cancer and surgery is often necessary to look for tumor markers in the fluit of the cysts which are not always accurate. Even removing the cyst by surgery knowing it may be benign may be problematic because the surgery is extensive and presents risks to the patient. The new method can predict with 97% accuracy which pancreatic cysts are precursors to cancer by detecting the presence of mucus protein, mucins, in the cystic fluid. In addition, researchers have tested the new method in order to analyze existing tumors and, with about 90% accuracy, have been able to determine which tumors have already developed into cancers. Thus, the method, called proteomics, could also be used to determine which patients require immediate surgery, and when it is instead possible to wait and monitor the development of the cyst,. It should be used in practice within 5 years.