Blood Test Might Help Spot Pancreatic Cancer Early
Danish researchers say findings are preliminary, test produces a lot of false positive results
"The test could thereby diagnose more patients with pancreatic cancer -- some of them at an early stage -- and thus have a potential to increase the number of patients that can be operated on and possibly cured of pancreatic cancer," the researchers said.
These preliminary results need to be validated and their clinical implications understood before the test could be widely used, they said.
William Phelps, program director at the American Cancer Society, said this new test is a good advancement.
"Pancreatic cancer has one of the most dismal prognoses that we have in cancer," he said.
Phelps said he doesn't think the treatments used today are all that effective, even when the cancer is diagnosed early.
"Having an early diagnosis system could be useful," he said. "It's kind of based on an article of faith in that we expect there will be good therapies arising in the future."
"You would like early detection to be paired with a capacity to treat successfully," he said. "We don't have those things for pancreatic cancer yet, but we expect to get them."
Phelps said he thinks, however, the latest research is headed in a promising direction.
Richards added: "It is hoped that, with time, such an approach would allow us to detect pancreatic cancer at a much more survivable stage. Lots of work still needs to be done. The test needs to be validated much more thoroughly. It is a step in the right direction."