New NCI Grant Funds Collaborative Effort to Improve Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer

A majority of pancreatic cancer patients (>80%) present with a surgically unresectable primary tumor with distant metastasis at the time of diagnosis due to the lack of associated symptoms and lack of methods for early detection. While the overall 5-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is low, significantly better outcomes have been reported for early stage, smaller tumors.

Supported by a newly funded grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Randall Brand, MD, Professor of Medicine, Academic Director of the GI Division at UPMC Shadyside, and Director of the GI Malignancy Early Detection, Diagnosis and Prevention Program, and his colleagues both at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Nebraska are developing novel biomarker-based blood tests that may detect pancreatic cancer earlier and distinguish between dangerous and benign pancreatic cysts. Specifically, the research team has conclusively established that overexpression of the glycoprotein mucin is a hallmark of pancreatic cancer, and has identified several biomarkers (MUC5AC and its 2 glycoforms, MUC4 and a glycoform of endorepellin) that hold promise for clinical benefit in pancreatic cancer detection and risk prediction.

Watch Dr. Brand discuss these studies in the video.