There is a new urine test, the first of its kind, that can lead to early detection for those with pancreatic cancer. If successful, the test could boost the long-term survival rate for patients from 5% to 60%.
Pancreatic cancer is set to become to second-deadliest cancer in 2020, and a big reason why is because of the lack of early detection. 85% of patients who are diagnosed are past the point when they can receive surgery because of how much the cancer has already spread. This leaves doctors with little options when it comes to treatments.
Professor Tatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic of Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, has been working on this test for 10 years, and is in the final stage of validation before being tested on patients. “We’ve been working on this biomarker research for over 10 years and I’m excited to reach this stage,” Professor Crnogorac-Jurcevic said.
The test is possible because of three specific proteins that are found in urine, which can lead to early detection for early-stage pancreatic cancer patients. The test detected early stage pancreatic cancer with nearly 95% accuracy in urine samples from pancreatic cancer patients.
“If we can detect pancreatic cancer when it’s still operable and when the tumours are small and not yet spread to other organs, we could see a significant impact on patient survival,” she said. “Removing tumours that are 1cm or smaller can increase five-year survival to around 60%.”
Maggie Blanks, the CEO and founder of Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, believes this test can be a major step forward in the right direction.
“Because symptoms of pancreatic cancer are vague and often mistaken for less lethal conditions, being able to rule in or rule out pancreatic much more quickly would be a major step forward in speeding up the diagnostic pathway. It would mean that many more patients would be eligible for surgery or could start other treatment much sooner.”