A molecular test developed by the University of Pittsburgh is able to distinguish benign pancreatic cysts from those that can evolve into cancer with a reliability close to 90%. The results of the trial that confirmed the validity of the exam were published in the journal Gastroenterology.
“Pancreatic cysts can be roughly classified as non-mucinous, which are benign, and mucinous, which have the potential to give rise to a form of pancreatic cancer,” the researchers explain in a statement.
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Effectiveness tested for two years
The test, developed by American researchers and called PancreaSeq, is based on the search for 22 genes within the fluid taken from the cysts; its efficacy was tested in 1,832 patients followed for 2 years. The test was able to recognize mucinous cysts in 90% of cases without ever giving rise to false positives. Among these, moreover, it showed an 88% reliability in identifying those that had already evolved into cancer, giving only 2% false positives.
Differentiation is important
“There is a very low probability that mucinous cysts give rise to cancer, but accurately identifying this type of cyst is important because it gives us a window of opportunity to monitor patients and prevent pancreatic cancer from developing,” said the study coordinator Aatur Singhiaccording to which the test is a candidate to enter the guidelines for the management of this neoplasm.
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The examination also gave good results in distinguishing non-mucinous cysts from a particular type of tumor: cystic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), which, depending on their characteristics, may need surgery or be monitored over time.
“Our hope is that PancreaSeq will allow not only to improve early detection of pancreatic cancer, but also to avoid overtreatment and unnecessary surgery for non-tumor cysts,” Singhi concluded.
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