Tokyo team advances work on early-stage pancreatic cancer Dx

Tokyo scientists came up with a blood test that they say helps spot pancreatic cancer in its early stages, a crucial advance that could help boost survival rates.

The National Cancer Center in Tokyo and other institutions helped develop the new diagnostic option, and The Asahi Shimbun newspaper in Japan reports on the details.

Early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer would be a milestone achievement, considering pancreatic cancer is hard to spot and often not diagnosed until it is advanced and almost impossible to treat. Other researchers are also drawn to this possibility; a University of Leicester team in the U.K. is developing a test that would search blood samples for tumor mutations caused by pancreatic genes.

Scientists in the effort spearheaded by Japan's National Cancer Center found that their blood test identifies two key proteins connected to cholesterol metabolism. According to the story, they conducted blood sample comparisons of healthy patients and those with pancreatic cancer, and then found that levels of those two telltale proteins dipped in the latter group. Further testing of several hundred patients showed how powerful the test can be. As the story explains, the diagnostic generated a 92% accuracy level, even in patients with early-stage pancreatic cancer. That percentage surpassed 99%, however, when using the option with other biomarker blood tests, many of which are designed to home in on a tumor only after it has grown to a certain point.

Further clinical work is necessary to definitively prove the viability of the new diagnostic blood test. That work continues, with the team, according to the article, focused on developing a test reagent set for their work.

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