In a "look-back" analysis of data stored on 130 patients with pancreatic cysts, scientists at Johns Hopkins have used gene-based tests and a fixed set of clinical criteria to more accurately distinguish precancerous cysts from those less likely to do harm. The findings may eventually help some patients in real time safely avoid surgery to remove harmless cysts. A report on the findings is published in the November 2015 issue of Gastroenterology. The article is titled “A Combination of Molecular Markers and Clinical Features Improve the Classification of Pancreatic Cysts.” Currently, doctors must test fluid collected from a needle that penetrates the cyst during a procedure called an endoscopic ultrasound-guided biopsy. The fluid is tested for levels of proteins associated with cancerous cysts, and pathologists look for atypical cells signifying cancer. However, recent studies show that these current methods are accurate only 63 percent of the time, says Anne Marie O’Broin Lennon (photo), M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Director of the Multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cyst Program at Hopkins. In addition to Dr. Lennon, the senior author, famed Hopkins physician scientists Bert Vogelstein, M.D., Kenneth Kinzler, Ph.D., Ralph Hruban, M.D., Nickolas Papadopoulos, Ph.D., and Luis Diaz Jr. M.D., were among the article co-authors,. The first author was Simeone Springer, a Hopkins graduate student in human genetics.
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