Saliva test could predict pancreatic cancer

In a small study of three dozen patients, researchers at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine found that those with pancreatic cancer had different levels of certain bacteria compared to healthy people. Thirty-one species of bacteria were elevated in the pancreatic cancer group, while 25 other types were depressed. By looking at the results of the study, researchers were able to tell which patients had cancers and which were healthy 80% of the time.

There is currently no screening test for pancreatic cancer, and as a result the disease is usually discovered in its late stages. Just 5% of people with pancreatic cancer are still alive after 5 years. The UCLA researchers say the next step is to determine whether the varied bacterial levels in cancer patients is a cause of or an effect of the disease. A larger study is already underway to clarify the findings. The research was published in the journal Gut.

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