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Researcher: Blood test designed to predict survival of pancreatic cancer


New test enables more effective treatment of pancreatic cancer
Researchers found that tumor DNA in the blood can serve as a prognostic marker for pancreatic cancer. A simple blood test would allow doctors to determine in the future how long those affected are likely to have to live. In addition, such tests could help doctors to design an optimal individual treatment.

Scientists from Sorbonne University and the Center Universitaire des Saints-Pères in France found in an investigation that a test can predict what the exact life expectancy of patients with pancreatic cancer will be. The doctors have now published the results of their study.

Patients with tumor DNA in the blood live significantly shorter
A simple blood test could predict the chances of survival for patients with pancreatic cancer. Doctors have now found that the prognosis for patients is much worse if tumor DNA is found in their blood. After diagnosis, the patients lived in the blood without tumor DNA for between 19 and 32 months. In comparison, people with DNA in the blood only lived around six months. This knowledge enables better prediction of life expectancy and more effective treatment.

Less than one percent of pancreatic cancer patients are still ten years old
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest diseases worldwide. The reason for this is often that the disease is diagnosed too late for effective treatment, the experts say. The disease is diagnosed in around 9,600 people each year in the UK alone. More than 8,000 of the patients die from the disease each year. Less than one percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will live for ten years or more.

Celebrity victims of pancreatic cancer
A number of prominent people have also died of the disease in recent years. These included actors Alan Rickman and Patrick Swayze, for example. Apple founder Steve Jobs also suffered from pancreatic cancer.

Test could give people the last few months with no side effects
The new test would enable doctors to ensure that the affected patients can be treated optimally. This could enable them to experience their last months without the side effects of medication or radiation, the scientists explain.

Early detection of tumor DNA enables optimized treatment
The current study confirms the strong prognostic relevance of the presence of tumor DNA and its concentration in advanced pancreatic cancer, explains Dr. Jean-Baptiste Bachet from the Sorbonne University in Paris. Our results show the benefits of circulating biomarkers in the sub-classification of cancer and in optimizing treatment, the expert adds.

More clinical studies are needed
"We need to confirm these results in prospective clinical trials to assess the predictive value of this biomarker in terms of the dynamic biological changes that occur during treatment," the authors say.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer
A recent survey on pancreatic cancer found that one in three people mistakenly or incorrectly recognized the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Symptoms for this form of cancer can include jaundice, upper abdominal pain, back pain, fatigue, indigestion, bad mood or depression, the doctors explain. But emerging diabetes, unexplained weight loss and pain while eating can also indicate pancreatic cancer, according to the experts. (as)

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