Now, more than 90 percent of pancreatic cancers are discovered at an advanced or metastatic stage with no effective therapy available. That explains why pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., although it ranks 10th in occurrence.
"We are now confirming our findings in a much larger study, involving institutions in the U.S. and in Europe," Dr. Wallace says.
The technique is a very different way of looking at cancer detection, he says.
"What is quite unusual is that we were trying to sense changes that are not in the tumor itself but are in the nearby, normal-appearing tissues," he says. "It relies on a principle, now being increasingly acknowledged, called a cancer field effect. Instead of looking for the needle in the haystack, we now look at the haystack to see how it is different when there's a needle inside.
"The general concept is that cancers cause surrounding tissue to undergo changes in the flow of oxygen that are detectable, not visually or even under the microscope, but by this kind of sensor," Dr. Wallace says.
To test the ability of the sensor to recognize pancreatic cancer, researchers studied two groups one in which 14 patients were already diagnosed with the cancer, and another in 10 cancer-free patients.
Dr. Wallace says the blood sensor endoscope is also being tested in colon and esophageal cancers.
|Contact: Kevin Punsky|