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Mayo Clinic reports new findings on noninvasive test for pancreatic cancer
Date:5/11/2011

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Pancreatic cancer has one of the highest mortality rates of any of the major cancers, and of the 43,000-plus Americans diagnosed with the disease each year, more than 94 percent die within five years of diagnosis. One reason for this high number of deaths is a lack of effective screening tools for catching the disease early. Now, in an effort to try to gain the upper hand on this deadly form of cancer, Mayo Clinic researchers believe they have found a new way to test for pancreatic cancer with DNA testing of patients' stool samples. The research was presented at the 2011 Digestive Disease Week conference, held May 7󈝶 in Chicago.

"We know with colon cancer that we can detect some molecular signatures of cancers and pre-cancers, and we were interested in trying to determine if we could do the same thing, specifically with a stool test, for pancreas cancer," says John Kisiel, M.D., Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, who presented the study's findings.

The study focused on detecting methylations in stool samples of 127 patients, 60 diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 67 who were not diagnosed with cancer. Methylation is a type of DNA modification strongly associated with cancers and pre-cancers. The research team wanted to test if they could reliably detect any types of methylated genes in the stool samples of those in the study group who had already been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"We found that a marker was reliably detected in both tissue samples and in the stools of pancreatic cancer patients, and that it compared favorably with another kind of marker - the mutation of a gene called KRAS," says Dr. Kisiel. "When we looked at those two markers together, the combined accuracy of both markers was significantly better than with either marker alone." Overall, the methylated marker (called BMP3) and the mutated KRAS genes were detected in 70 percent of those in the study who had pancreatic cancer.

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Contact: Brian Kilen
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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