Biomarkers May Identify Early Stages of Pancreatic Cancer

Recently researchers discovered several biomarkers among a panel of proteins that show the development of pancreatic cancer in its earliest stages, which may increase detection tests and early treatments of the fatal condition.

According to news reports from Science Daily, scientists developed a “five-biomarker panel that if commercially developed, may be useful when combined with a currently available test measuring a pancreatic-cancer biomarker called CA 19.9, which is elevated 80 percent of the time among newly diagnosed patients.”

The study involved experts from the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Michigan and the Belfer Institute of Innovative Cancer Science at Dana-Faber Cancer Institute all of which collaborated on the findings revealing that the biomarkers among the study’ test mice translated to similar biomarkers among humans.

This means that if the biomarkers among both the mice and humans are similar, the biomarkers will likely be able to increase early detection of the deadly pancreatic condition.

Because treatments are more effective during initial stages of pancreatic cancer, this development of may revolutionize the detection of this and potentially other similar diseases, according to expert statements obtained from news reports.

Defining Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer develops in the tissues of the organ that commonly “regulates the metabolism of sugars,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Unfortunately, the Mayo Clinic also reports that pancreatic cancer is often described as a “leading cause of cancer deaths” because it is not detected in its early stages and has a very poor prognosis.

Science Daily reported that pancreatic cancer is “the fourth leading cause of cancer death… with a five-year survival rate of only 3 percent.” Additionally, if pancreatic solid tumors are caught in the early stages approximately 90 percent of the time they can be treated, whereas if the cancer is caught in later stages, treatment is successful only 10 percent of the time.

Each year more than 29,000 additional Americans are diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which also explained that pancreatic cancer is considered a “silent disease” because of the minimal and sometimes deceiving symptoms that are difficult to recognize and associate with pancreatic cancer. The symptoms of pancreatic cancer include the following, according to NCI:

* weight loss

* nausea and vomiting

* weakness

* loss of appetite

* pain in upper back or abdomen

* dark urine from jaundice

* yellowing skin and eyes

Causes and Prescription Drug Dangers

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) there are several risk factors associated with the development of pancreatic cancer, but researchers are still unsure as exactly what causes the condition. However, the following are common characterisitcs making an individual more likely to develop the condition, according to ACS:

* age

* gender

* race

* smoking

* diet, lack of exercises and obesity

* diabetes

* chronic pancreatitis

* cirrhosis of the liver

* work exposure to pesticides, dyes and chemicals

* family history, hereditary conditions

* gene changes/inherited gene mutations

* stomach problems/surplus of stomach acids

Unfortunately, there is also another risk factor that can be attributed to man-made circumstances including the consumption of prescription drugs, which may cause pancreatitis leading to pancreatic cancer. For example, a prescription type 2 diabetes drug known as Byetta (exenatide) has recently been linked to the onset of pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Health Advisory.

Byetta, from Eli Lilly and Amylin Pharmceuticals, was released in 2005 and by August 2008, six individuals consuming the drug had been hospitalized for pancreatitis conditions, two of whom died. There have also been 30 additional cases of acute pancreatitis, which is sudden pancreatic inflammation, allegedly associated with the drug

Because Byetta-induced pancreatitis can potentially lead to a fatal pancreatic cancer it is imperative that an individual speak with a medical professional on the Byetta dangers as well as consider developing a Byetta class action lawsuit for the severe and irreversible side effects the drug may have already caused.

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