A clinical research study to develop a rapid and inexpensive blood screening test for the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer has been launched by Henry Ford Health System (Detroit, Michigan) and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute (Detroit, Michigan). Funding for the study was provided by Sky Foundation, Inc., a local non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.

Researchers of the Henry Ford Health System will recruit 300 patients to participate in this study and will hold a special blood draw events for the study. “Currently there is no available blood test for pancreatic cancer that is either sensitive or specific enough for early diagnosis,” says Ann Silverman, M.D., of the Henry Ford’s Department of Gastroenterology, and lead study investigator for Henry Ford. “The objective of this research study is to develop such a diagnostic test by identifying useful markers of cancer in the blood of high risk individuals and cancer patients,” she adds.

Despite many decades of research pancreatic carcinomas remain one of the deadliest cancers with few effective treatments. In the United States an estimated about 43,000 individuals will be diagnosed annually with this condition, and 37,000 will die from the disease. [1,2] The prognosis is poor, the disease rarely curable and the overall survival (OS) rate of less than 4%. Complete remission is still rare. [2,3,4,5]

“Patients with pancreatic cancer usually lack signs and symptoms in the early course of the disease and even when malignancy is suspected, differential diagnosis between benign and malignant pancreatic disorders may be difficult with current methods,” says Dr. Silverman. “Therefore, pancreatic cancer largely remains undetected and is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when surgical intervention is not possible.”

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Current diagnostic methods include CT scan, ultrasound, MRI, a needle biopsy or an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) test that uses an ultrasound machine on the end of an endoscope that is inserted into the stomach to directly evaluate the pancreas and remove tissue or fluid to be tested for cancer. These tests are expensive and therefore are not considered practical screening tests.

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The study is being done in collaboration with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, where blood samples will undergo biomarker analysis. Researchers at Karmanos are leaders in the identification of circulation biomarkers for cancer in serum samples.

Patients may be eligible to participate if they are at high risk of pancreatic cancer or have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Patients are considered at high risk for pancreatic cancer if he has one or more family members with pancreatic cancer, hereditary pancreatitis or a BRCA2 gene mutation.

For more information:
Participation in the study will require a single blood draw if you are at high risk for pancreatic cancer. Physicians interested in having one of their patients participate should contact Nicole Samuels at (248) 344-2358.

References:
[1] Pancreatic Cancer ? National Cancer Institute, U.S. National Institutes of Health (Last accessed on January 12, 2011)”
[2]National Cancer Instutute. National Institute of Health Last accessed 2010-12-30
[3] Ghaneh P, Costello E, Neoptolemos JP (August 2007). Biology and management of pancreatic cancer. Gut 56 (8): 1134?52. doi:10.1136/gut.2006.103333. PMID
[4] Merck Manual. Pancreatic Cancer (Last accessed on January 12, 2011)
[5] Greenlee RT, Murray T, Bolden S, Wingo PA. Cancer statistics, 2000. CA Cancer J Clin. 2000 Jan-Feb;50(1):7-33.

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