Pancreatic cancer: early detection developed

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New diagnostic method for cancer detection is supposed to prevent unnecessary operations

Swedish researchers have developed a new method for the early detection of pancreatic cancer. Accordingly, an ultrasound examination of cysts in the organ, together with a fluid examination, leads to a 97% certainty whether they develop into malignant tumors. So far, pancreatic cancer has mostly been discovered at a very late stage because there are no specific symptoms for a long time. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rates among all types of cancer.

Improved procedure for the early detection of pancreatic cancer increases the chances of a cure. Pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed very late when other organs are already affected. This significantly reduces the chances of recovery for those affected. 19 of 20 patients with malignant tumors of the pancreas die of the disease. Around 15,000 new cases are diagnosed in Germany every year. As a result, there is a great need for a better early detection method.

The Swedish doctor Karolina Jabbar from the Sahlgrenska Hospital in Gothenburg and her team developed a new diagnostic procedure as part of a study that achieves 97 percent certainty in the detection of pancreatic cancer. The researchers report in the renowned journal "Journal of the National Cancer Institute". Accordingly, malignant tumors could be detected early, treated and possibly even stopped using the new method.

Early detection with ultrasound and fluid examination achieves 97 percent diagnostic certainty. Unlike with conventional endoscopy, the pancreas is better imaged by ultrasound, so that targeted fluid samples can be taken. Although cysts that could develop into malignant tumors could also be detected using “computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)”, “the problem is that imaging alone does not allow a statement about which cysts are at risk, develop into cancer, ”says the University of Gothenburg. "This is why it is often necessary to puncture the cysts and look for tumor markers in the fluid, but these examinations are also not reliable."

With the new method, the presence of so-called mucins in the cyst fluid is examined. It is a structural component of mucus, the increased production of which is associated with the occurrence of pancreatic cancer - and other types of cancer. With the new procedure "the researchers were able to make the correct diagnosis in 77 of 79 cysts," writes the university. "This is an extraordinarily good result for a diagnostic test."

According to the researchers, the new, gentler method could prevent unnecessary operations. The procedure is also intended to help distinguish patients who have an urgent need for surgery from those whose cysts can also be treated later. The method could be put into practice in just five years. (ag)

Image: Andreas Dengs, /

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Video: New tool for early detection of pancreatic cancer!

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