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New way to detect pancreatic cancer

A safe and non-invasive way to detect pancreatic cancer by blood test is invented. Professor Irving Waxman, University of Chicago reveals that this can be done by collecting samples from the portal vein, which carries blood from the gastrointestinal tract, including pancreas, to the live. Physicians can learn far more about a patient’s pancreatic cancer than by relying on peripheral blood from a more easily accessed vein in the arm.

Usually primary tumours shed the cancerous circulating tumour cells (CTCs), into the blood. These CTCs are larger, irregularly shaped and tend to cluster together, they get trapped in smaller vessels. According to studies, these are prognostic biomarkers for various cancers.

These tumours are rarely identified in the peripheral blood until the cancer is widely metastatic. The study director explains that, the cells released from a gastrointestinal tumour would flow into the narrow vessels in the liver. So, they would not reach the peripheral venous system. The researchers used ultrasound-guided endoscope and a small needle to take blood from the portal vein during the diagnostic endoscopies to test the theory. Waxman says, ‘Access to circulating tumour cells may help us define the diagnosis and guide treatment’.