Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related death in the United States and has a 5-year survival rate of just 6 percent, which is the lowest rate of all types of cancer according to the American Cancer Society. This low survival rate is partially attributed to the difficulty in detecting pancreatic cancer at an early stage. According to a new “proof of principle” study published online on August 27, 2015 in Cancer Prevention Research, Moffitt Cancer Center researchers in Tampa, Florida hope to improve pancreatic cancer survival rates by identifying markers in the blood that can pinpoint patients with premalignant pancreatic lesions called intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs). The article is titled “Plasma MicroRNAs as Novel Biomarkers for Patients with Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasms of the Pancreas.” "One promising strategy to reduce the number of people affected by pancreatic cancer is to identify and treat premalignant pancreatic lesions," said first author Jennifer Permuth-Wey, Ph.D., Assistant Member in the Departments of Cancer Epidemiology and Gastrointestinal Oncology at Moffitt. "IPMNs are established precursor lesions to pancreatic cancer that account for approximately half of all asymptomatic pancreatic cysts incidentally detected by computerized tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the U.S. each year." IPMNs can be characterized as either low- or high-risk for the development of pancreatic cancer; however, the only way to accurately characterize the severity of IPMNs is by their surgical removal that is, in itself, associated with a risk of complications, such as long-term diabetes and death.
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