Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer: A Promising Discovery

Source: express.co.uk

A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is similar to a death sentence. It is one of the cancer types you wouldn’t want to have. The available treatment and surgery for this kind of cancer are still limited, and the survival rates are meager.

Imagine, Steve Jobs had enormous access to experimental research and resources but still succumb to pancreatic cancer.  Many celebrities died of pancreatic cancer: Alan Rickman, Patrick Swayze, Bill Hicks, Luciano Pavarotti and Sally Ride. In the medical world, pancreatic cancer is tagged as a silent killer because, by the time noticeable symptoms appear, the cancer is often advanced for successful treatment. Despite the significant changes in the mortality rate of other cancers, research shows that only 5% of people with pancreatic cancer are alive five years later while breast cancer survival rate is 90% after five years and 83% after ten years.

Brief background

The pancreas is located behind the stomach. It secretes hormones such as insulin and glucagon that is necessary for blood sugar regulation and aid in the digestion of food. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often generalized and can mean myriad of diseases. Examples of this are a loss of appetite, depression, blood clots, and generalized pain in the abdomen and back. The risk factors for pancreatic cancer are a history of pancreatitis, diabetes, family history of cancer and smoking. There are several methods of confirming pancreatic cancer: imaging techniques such as CT scans, MRIs, PET scans and ultrasound and biopsy.

Source: slideshare.net

New Tests

Currently, extensive research and studies are still in works to create better outcomes for individuals with pancreatic cancer. The latest update involves a blood test that may have the capacity to detect the development of pancreatic cancer early on which is comparable to tumor markers such carcinoembryonic antigen, alpha-fetoprotein, prostate-specific antigen. In the early stage of the study, the new test was able to detect pancreatic cancer in more 90 percent of subjects with pancreatic cancer. The blood examination measures the presence of small bubbles of a cellular material called extracellular vesicles in the circulation. The rationale for the test is because cancerous pancreatic cells give out vesicles with different protein than that of normal pancreatic cells. Researchers developed a miniature sensor that can quantity the extracellular vesicles and the detection of the sensor simply needs less than a drop of blood. Amazingly, it is sensitive enough to even determine the stage of the disease. In fact, in the early stage, the vesicles levels dropped after the surgical removal of the tumor. 

At the moment, the test needs to be validated in larger populations before it can be included as a routine testing for pancreatic cancer. This development is great news for everyone since pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths and following the current trend, it will rise to second place in the next ten years. The test can mean increase survivability through allowing diagnosis at an early stage when the application of cancer treatments like chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation are more efficient.

Source: seenamagowitzfoundation.org

Providing support

Other than the scientific aspects of care, it is relevant to include the provision of emotional and psychological support to the cancer patient and family. Relationships and family dynamics are greatly affected by this killer disease. Regain offers advice that addresses problematic relationships.


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