Biomarkers could help with pancreatic cancer watchful waiting

Pancreatic cysts are generally benign and asymptomatic, and physicians just keep an eye on them--known as watchful waiting. However, some forms of pancreatic cysts, such as intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms, or IPMNs, will develop into pancreatic cancers, and the challenge to the physician is to identify the type of cyst and the likelihood that it will become cancerous.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Asuragen are looking at microRNA biomarkers that could be used with pancreatic cyst fluid to identify those patients that require immediate surgery, and the researchers presented data at the American Pancreatic Association Annual Meeting.

The team has created a 9-miRNA model that can predict the risk of a cyst becoming malignant and requiring surgery. This was assessed using samples of fluid from 50 cysts that had been confirmed as low-risk or high-risk using histology. The model had a sensitivity of 89% and specificity of 100%.

These are early results and the researchers plan a larger prospective study, but the test could bring peace of mind to patients with pancreatic cysts, and help doctors determine the patients that require surgery, potentially reducing the number of procedures.

- read the release

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