Pancreatic cancer is deadly, with only 5 percent of its victims surviving for five years. The poor rate of survival is mainly because the cancer doesn’t have symptoms in its early stages, and usually isn’t diagnosed until advanced — 80 percent of pancreatic cancers are very advanced when they are diagnosed. But a team of British scientists found that three proteins present at high levels in urine can be a marker for pancreatic cancer at an early stage, when it may be small enough to be cured by surgery.
The team at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary of London, believe their discovery could lead to a non-invasive test to screen people at high risk, such as heavy smokers. In addition, the test can distinguish between cancer and pancreatitis, two conditions that are hard to tell apart.
The study, which was published in Clinical Cancer Research, examined 488 urine samples: 192 from patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, 92 from patients with chronic pancreatitis, and 87 from healthy volunteers. An additional 117 samples from patients with other benign and malignant liver and gall bladder conditions were also included.
Of 1,500 proteins found in the urine samples, three — LYVE1, REG1A and TFF1— were present in elevated levels in the patients with cancer. When the three proteins were combined, they detected patients with stages I-II pancreatic cancer with more than 90 percent accuracy.
“We’ve always been keen to develop a diagnostic test in urine as it has several advantages over using blood,” said lead researcher Dr. Tatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic. “It’s an inert and far less complex fluid than blood and can be repeatedly and non-invasively tested.
“This is a biomarker panel with good specificity and sensitivity and we’re hopeful that a simple, inexpensive test can be developed and be in clinical use within the next few years.”
People at high risk of pancreatic cancer include those with a family history of the disease, heavy smokers, the obese, and people over the age of 50 newly diagnosed with diabetes.
“For a cancer with no early-stage symptoms, it’s a huge challenge to diagnose pancreatic cancer sooner, but if we can, then we can make a big difference to survival rates,” said co-author Nick Lemoine. “With pancreatic cancer, patients are usually diagnosed when the cancer is already at a terminal stage, but if diagnosed at stage 2, the survival rate is 20 percent, and at stage 1, the survival rate for patients with very small tumors can increase up to 60 percent.”
By Sylvia Booth Hubbard
Original article: http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Health-News/pancreatic-cancer-urine-test/2015/08/03/id/665165/