One of the reasons the prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients is so poor is due to its late diagnosis as symptoms do not present until an advanced stage. Until recently there have not been effective candidate markers for screening of early stage pancreatic cancer.
Recently the situation has improved. There are now candidates for blood and urine tests.
The protein Glypican-1 shed into blood from tumours as exosomes (lipid droplets) can be detected in the blood of pancreatic cancer patients but not healthy volunteers .
A three protein urine test has been developed which can detect early-stage pancreatic cancer .
With further development these markers could form the basis of tests that make screening for pancreatic cancer a routine procedure. If the majority of pancreatic cancer cases could be diagnosed early this would dramatically improve the prognosis of patients.
- Melo, Sonia A., Linda B. Luecke, Christoph Kahlert, Agustin F. Fernandez, Seth T. Gammon, Judith Kaye, Valerie S. LeBleu, et al. ‘Glypican-1 Identifies Cancer Exosomes and Detects Early Pancreatic Cancer’. Nature 523, no. 7559 (9 July 2015): 177–82. doi:10.1038/nature14581.
- Radon, Tomasz P., Nathalie J. Massat, Richard Jones, Wasfi Alrawashdeh, Laurent Dumartin, Darren Ennis, Stephen W. Duffy, et al. ‘Identification of a Three-Biomarker Panel in Urine for Early Detection of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma’. Clinical Cancer Research 21, no. 15 (8 January 2015): 3512–21. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-2467.