New Blood Test Detects Pancreatic Cancer Earlier

Pancreatic Cancer detection with PAM4 and CA 19 9 antibody

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(RxWiki News) Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat because it is generally not discovered until it has already metastasized. A new test may help detect pancreatic cancer in the early stages.

A new blood test that evaluates levels of two proteins associated with pancreatic cancer - PAM4 and CA 19-9 - accurately diagnosed 65-85 percent of patients with early and late stages of the disease.

"Ask your doctor about screening tests for high risk cancers."

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the most common form of pancreatic cancer, represents 90 percent of diagnosed pancreatic cancers, and prognosis is generally poor.

Testing for both proteins, PAM4 and CA 19-9, in the blood has boosted accuracy from earlier tests which tested for PAM4 alone, and identified only about half of patients with pancreatic cancer.

When testing for both proteins, accuracy rose to 64 percent for early pancreatic cancer, and 85 percent for more advanced pancreatic cancer.

“Early detection, in addition to better therapeutics, is urgently needed for patients with pancreatic cancer,” said lead author David V. Gold, Ph.D. and lab director at the Garden State Cancer Center in New Jersey.

“Pancreatic cancer symptoms are vague, and the disease tends to develop and grow silently. By the time it is detected, it has often spread to other parts of the body, making it nearly impossible to cure. These study results are extremely encouraging and may eventually lead to improved detection of the disease in high-risk individuals,” Gold explained.

The monoclonal antibody test was evaluated using blood samples from 298 patients with confirmed pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, 99 patients with non-pancreatic cancers, 126 patients with benign cancers of the pancreas, and 79 healthy adults.

PAM4 and CA 19-9 testing also flagged half of patients with cancer of the bile ducts and gallbladder. Some 20 percent of patients with non-malignant inflammatory conditions of the pancreas, such as benign cancer or pancreatitis, were also flagged.

Research was presented at the ninth annual Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Results are considered preliminary until research is published in a peer reviewed journal.

Full Financial Disclosure from the study: David M. Goldenberg, Sc.D., M.D. owns stock in and is employed by Immunomedics, a firm that develops and manufactures monoclonal antibodies.

Last Updated:
February 21, 2012