Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease. It’s almost always found when it’s too far advanced to cure. It’s hard to detect and symptom-free until the late stages. But researchers are beginning to make inroads into this difficult-to-diagnose disease.U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has survived pancreatic cancer, not once, but twice. Hers was found early, which is rare.
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Embed” />Copy LinkNew Technology Helps Some Patients Avoid Pancreatic CancerThe pancreas is an important organ that produces insulin, a hormone that regulates the body’s blood sugar. But the pancreas is hard to see. It’s at the back of the abdomen, covered by the stomach and the liver. That’s why doctors can’t detect early tumors during routine physical exams. Dr. Somashekar Krishna is an endocrinologist who says that’s why only 9% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are alive five years after diagnosis.”The cancer doesn’t produce any symptoms early on,” said Krishna.Patricia Beatty likes playing cards with her children. She went to the hospital with what she thought was a stomach virus. During a scan of her stomach, the doctor found a cyst. “He told me that the cyst was there and that it was precancerous,” said Beatty.Pancreatic cancer develops in one of two ways. It either starts as a cancerous tumor, or it starts when a cyst changes and becomes cancerous. The difference between a tumor and a cyst is that a tumor is firm, while a pancreatic cyst is filled with fluid. Cysts on the pancreas are common. Most are, fortunately, benign. Doctors can test fluid from inside the cyst, but it’s hard to tell which cysts will develop into cancer. New Test May Detect Pancreatic Cancer Early
Researchers have developed a blood test that could help with the early detection of pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease.
Doctors usually are unable to diagnose cancer of the pancreas until it is too late.
Cancerous tumors or cysts can be detected with sonograms or other diagnostic imaging tools, but imaging is so expensive, it can’t be used as a regular screening device. Krishna led a study of a new diagnostic tool that gives doctors a microscopic view of the cyst wall. He led the study at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Krishna says his study showed this virtual biopsy is highly accurate.”We can diagnose cysts with the accuracy of 96% to 97%,” said Krishna.The procedure uses a tiny scope that emits a laser light to produce a cellular image of the inside of the cyst.”[In] looking at the image pattern which comes from the cyst wall, which comes as a direct video feed in real time, we can conclude what the diagnosis is,” said Krishna.Krishna and others are training doctors at hospitals across the U.S. to use this new technology so they can more accurately diagnose precancerous cysts.This can save lives, but this procedure will be used only after an MRI or a sonogram is ordered for another reason, so the cancer will still grow silently in most people until it’s too late to save them.Krishna told VOA that a blood test is the most logical way to find pancreatic cancer early. The problem is, it hasn’t been developed yet, although researchers are working on it.As for Patricia Beatty, she’s cancer free because this new diagnostic tool found her cyst before it became malignant and spread.