Pancreatic Cancer: Can It Be Diagnosed Early?
This article explains how it may be possible to detect pancreatic cancer early and what tests are available. The article also describes the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and explains who has a higher risk of developing it.
Researchers are developing new tests that can help detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages. These tests usually rely on blood tests. A blood test can detect the level of antigen CA19-9 in the blood. This antigen is linked to pancreatic cancer.
Blood tests can also show if your bloodstream contains certain chemicals that may be signs of a developing tumor.
To confirm the diagnosis of cancer, other diagnosing tests need to follow blood tests.
GRAIL’s Galleri test
The GRAIL company’s Galleri test screens for multiple cancers. The test
This could help detect the vast majority of tumors before early symptoms appear. Detecting cancer in its early stages may prevent its spread to other areas of the body. This may also lead to a better outcome for people with cancer.
The Galleri test, being a trial,
Immunovia Inc. IMMray PanCan-d test
The IMMray PanCan-d test
Your doctor will order the test. Following this, the company sends the test kit to your home. You then take the kit to a lab or clinic, where the sample will be collected and sent back to the company. The company tests your serum with various antigens, recording its reaction to them. Finally, they test the level of CA19-9 with a separate instrument. The results of the tests are put into an algorithm that calculates a person’s potential risk for developing pancreatic cancer.
It is important to know that insurance does not yet cover this test.
If you have a family history of genetic conditions that can increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, your doctor may refer you to a genetic center. There, researchers can study your DNA.
Genetic tests look for irregularities within the genes that have a well-known link to the development of pancreatic cancer. This type of test is usually offered first to a member of the family who has developed pancreatic cancer. Their results are compared with those of other members of the same family.
Doctors can find out if your family member has an irregular gene in their DNA. If doctors find an irregularity in one or more genes, they may recommend that other family members undergo a screening test to check for the same ones.
If you have a family history of pancreatic cancer, consider talking with your doctor. This is especially important if you have concerns or you experience any symptoms.
If your doctor believes you may have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, they may recommend further screening.
One risk factor of pancreatic cancer is smoking. Smoking causes
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer can also include:
- family history of pancreatic cancer
- age older than 55 years
- chronic pancreatitis
- cirrhosis of the liver
- Helicobacter pylori infection
- work exposure to certain chemicals used in the metalworking and dry-cleaning industry
Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include:
- weight loss
- abdominal pain
- pale or clay-colored stools
- dark urine
- itchy skin
- distended gallbladder
- deep vein thrombosis
Faith Selchick, D.N.P., APRN, AOCNP, has reviewed these questions people frequently ask about pancreatic cancer.
Can blood work detect pancreatic cancer?
While blood tests may be a part of pancreatic cancer diagnosis, there are currently no standard or national cancer screening guidelines for these tests. There are blood tests that are currently being researched to detect pancreatic cancer early. However, they are not yet approved by insurance companies or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For an accurate pancreatic cancer diagnosis, a biopsy is required.
Is pancreatic cancer curable if caught early?
An early diagnosis
How long can you have pancreatic cancer without knowing?
Most people do not know they have pancreatic cancer until the advanced stages when the first symptoms appear. For this reason, pancreatic cancer can have a low survival rate.
New detection blood tests have been developed and can be used alongside traditional diagnosing methods. These blood tests can help doctors find pancreatic cancer in its early stages. Detecting pancreatic cancer in its early stages may improve the outlook.
However, there are limitations to these new tests. Many of them are still in clinical trials, and they have high out-of-pocket costs as insurance does not cover them.
If you have concerns about your risks of developing pancreatic cancer, speak with your doctor.