Researchers improve blood test to detect early pancreatic cancer

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A recent study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, outlines an improved blood test capable of detecting pancreatic cancer earlier than current methods.

Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed in its later stages, with 82 to 85 percent of patients unable to be treated surgically. While still in development, this blood test aims to provide clinicians with early insight and means to detect cancer before treatment become unavailable to patients.

"Our study demonstrates that the many patients with respectable pancreatic cancers can be detected through a non-invasive blood test," said Anne Marie Lennon, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Director, Pancreatic Cyst Center of the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. "Our goal is to develop a test that will be used in healthy, asymptomatic individuals."

The study demonstrated how the combination of mutations in circulating tumor DNA with protein markers can improve the sensitivity of blood screening test to 64 percent of early stage pancreatic cancer patients with an accuracy rate of 99.5 percent. Maintaining high sensitively allows for a low number of false positives and improved patient outcomes.