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Game changer: Biomarker identified for noncancerous pancreatic cysts
Date:2/11/2014

it from surgery, and of those, only about 20 percent will survive five years," said Dr. Schmidt, who is a researcher with the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center and director of the IU Health Pancreatic Cyst and Cancer Early Detection Center.

Complications from pancreatic surgery are common and can be life threatening, so sparing a patient unnecessary surgery is important, Dr. Schmidt said.

"As scientists, we have tried to figure out which cystic lesions are benign, which are pre-cancerous and which are malignant," Dr. Yip-Schneider said. "Although pancreatic cysts are best seen on pancreatic MRI-MRCP, making a diagnosis of which type of cyst and how likely cancer will develop is not usually possible through imaging alone."

Surgery is not the panacea that patients frequently hope for, and the majority of pancreatic cancer patients aren't even eligible due to the advanced stage of the disease at presentation.

Pancreatic cysts and cancer are becoming more common in the American population. It is unclear why, but pancreatic cancer is clearly associated with obesity, smoking and a family history of pancreatic cancer.

Today, about 3 percent of the U.S. population has pancreatic cysts, although many are asymptomatic and go undiagnosed. Most of these cysts are pre-cancerous, but some are completely benign while others are cancerous. Patients go through extensive follow-up medical visits, invasive biopsies and sometimes unnecessary surgery to determine the true nature of their pancreatic cyst. The novel marker VEGF-A can completely eliminate the need for this extensive follow-up and potential harm for patients with unrecognized benign cysts, the researchers said.

"Many of my patients when initially told they have pancreatic cysts are very fearful and ask for surgical removal of the cyst or the entire pancreas before they even learn their options," Dr. Schmidt said. "Now, physicians will have an outpatient
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Contact: Mary Hardin
mhardin@iu.edu
317-274-5456
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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