Possible cancer diagnosis tool for pancreatic disease uncovered

18 August 2011

Cancer diagnosis imaging using optical coherence tomography has been proven to clearly differentiate between high and low-risk pancreatic cysts which, when malignant, can prove fatal.

Research conducted by a team of medical scientists led by Nicusor Iftimia from Physical Sciences could help doctors improve cancer treatment as well as their rates of diagnosis as previous optical techniques often failed to illustrate the disease clearly.

Findings were so impressive that doctors were able to differentiate the pancreatic cancerous growths with a success rate comparable to that of microscopic examination of tissue samples, reports the Biomedical Optics Express journal.

According to Cancer Research UK, early detection of pancreatic cancer is vital as many patients cannot undergo surgery as the disease is too far advanced by the time it is diagnosed. However chemotherapy can improve conditions for patients.

In July, a new gene-based test designed to help diagnose whether pancreatic cysts are likely to develop into cancer was developed.

"There has long been a need for accurate, quantitative ways to identify cysts that are more worrisome and to help patients avoid unnecessary surgeries," commented Professor Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, which carried out the study.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

1 Iftimia, Nicusor, "Differentiation of pancreatic cysts with optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging: an ex-vivo pilot study," Biomedical Optics Express August 17th 2011.

2 Wu, J. et al. "Recurrent GNAS mutations define an unexpected pathway for pancreatic cyst development". Science Translational Medicine. Wednesday July 20th 2011.

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