Blood test may help to diagnose pancreatic cancer

Nov. 3, 2014

Indiana University cancer researchers have found that a simple blood test might help diagnose pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of the disease. In research published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, Murray Korc, MD, and colleagues found that several microRNAs—small RNA molecules—circulate at high levels in the blood of pancreatic cancer patients.

Specifically, the research team found that an increased expression of miRNA-10b, -155, and -106b in plasma appears highly accurate in diagnosing pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is by far the most common type of pancreatic malignancy.

Dr. Korc and colleagues made the discovery by examining plasma, bile, pancreatic juice, or a combination, which had been collected from 215 patients either immediately before or during an endoscopy. Dr. Korc points out that additional studies are needed to confirm that a blood test could be an effective method of diagnosing pancreatic cancer.

“It may be possible to use a blood test to screen individuals who are at high risk for developing pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Korc says. “We are planning to conduct such studies. It will be important to identify additional markers and to assess how useful a panel of such markers would be for the early diagnosis of this cancer. Based on our findings, this test could also be useful to differentiate between pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis.” Read the study.

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