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Studies See Advances in Detecting, Treating Pancreatic Cancer
Date:5/22/2012

"That's a large difference in percentage terms, although our work so far looked only at disease-free survival, not overall survival," he said. "Overall is the most important parameter, so that is what we are looking at now."

Dr. Michael Wallace, the lead author of the detection study, said his team's findings are a cause for guarded optimism: a 100 percent success rate in spotting pancreatic cancer using the light-screening method.

The approach does, however, yield a significant number of false-positive results. What's more, the findings stem from an analysis of very early data concerning just 21 patients in a 30-patient pilot study.

"So now we plan to launch a 600-person trial across the U.S. and Europe in late summer to validate our findings regarding a novel diagnostic concept: to shine a light on the small intestine, as opposed to the tumor itself, and to see how that light bounces back and reveals changes in the surrounding blood supply that tumors need to grow," said Wallace, Mayo's chairman of the division of gastroenterology.

"The beauty here is that this is minimally invasive, and will hopefully help us to shift to early detection," he said. "Because, as things are today, the vast majority of patients are diagnosed way too late and simply cannot be cured."

For her part, Matrisian said only time will tell how effective the new detection method might be.

"The intestinal probe is an interesting concept and further work will determine whether this will be useful in the early detection of pancreatic cancer," she said.

Because the studies were presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

For more on pancreatic cancer, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Lynn Matrisian, PhD,
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Studies See Advances in Detecting, Treating Pancreatic Cancer
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