We may soon have a way to detect the early stages of pancreatic cancer.
A clinical research study to develop a rapid and inexpensive blood screening test for the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer has been launched by Henry Ford Health System and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.
“Currently there is no available blood test for pancreatic cancer that is either sensitive or specific enough for early diagnosis,” says Ann Silverman, M.D., of the Henry Ford’s Department of Gastroenterology, and lead study investigator for Henry Ford.
“The objective of this research study is to develop such a diagnostic test by identifying useful markers of cancer in the blood of high risk individuals and cancer patients,” she adds.
The study is being done in collaboration with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, where blood samples will undergo biomarker analysis.
“Patients with pancreatic cancer usually lack signs and symptoms in the early course of the disease and even when malignancy is suspected, differential diagnosis between benign and malignant pancreatic disorders may be difficult with current methods,” says Dr. Silverman. “Therefore, pancreatic cancer largely remains undetected and is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when surgical intervention is not possible.”
Current diagnostic methods include CT scan, ultrasound, MRI, a needle biopsy or an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) test that uses an ultrasound machine on the end of an endoscope that is inserted into the stomach to directly evaluate the pancreas and remove tissue or fluid to be tested for cancer. These tests are expensive and therefore are not considered practical screening tests.
According to the National Cancer Institute, 36,800 people died of pancreatic cancer annually and more than 43,000 new cases of the disease were diagnosed in 2010.
Henry Ford will recruit 300 patients to participate in this study and will hold a special blood draw event for the study 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 22 at Henry Ford Medical Center in Novi.
Henry Ford Health System contributed to this report.