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Blood Test for Pancreatic Cancer Shows Promise

But the screen is meant only for people already at high risk for the deadly illness, experts say

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And Ahuja stressed that the test is not designed as a screen for the population as a whole -- only for those already deemed to be at high risk for the disease.

"The eventual goal is to develop a cost-effective test to test patients who are at high risk," she said. "The beauty of this test is that it can be repeated every year as you go for your annual physical."

Dr. Smitha Krishnamurthi is an associate professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology with University Hospitals Case Medical Center & Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in Cleveland. She applauded the research, saying that "if pancreatic cancer could be detected at an early stage, more patients would be cured."

"This study presents an encouraging step in the right direction," Krishnamurthi said. "The authors have developed a blood test that detected the earliest stage of pancreatic cancer and correctly identified most of the healthy individuals tested. However, this was a very small study. The blood test must be studied in many more patients with early stage pancreatic cancer and healthy individuals to really know if it will be an accurate and reliable screening test for pancreatic cancer."

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