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Biomarkers for Pancreatic Cancer have been identified in saliva

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According to the March issue of Gastroenterology, researchers have discovered four biomarkers for pancreatic cancer in human saliva. This new development may save the lives of nearly 1 in 72 people in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is now the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

In the study, four biomarkers have been identified: KRAS, MBD3L2, ACRV1, and DPM1. These four biomarkers differentiated pancreatic cancer patients from non-cancer patients with 90 percent sensitivity and 95 percent specificity. The study was conducted in a relatively small population of 30 pancreatic cancer patients, 30 chronic pancreatitis patients and 30 healthy adult controls to compare the data.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which survival has not improved substantially over the past 30 years. Seventy-five percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within the first 12 months of diagnosis. Because of the anatomy of the pancreas, signs and symptoms of the cancer are not noticeable until the cancer has spread to other major organs of the body. Once the cancer is in several organs it is very difficult to treat. The importance of having an early diagnostic test would save over 35,000 of American’s lives every year.

This rapid, chair-side, saliva test may just be performed at an upcoming dental visit. Dr. Jason McCargar, a Scottsdale Family and Cosmetic Dentist, says “There are already several important saliva tests that are available to improve your overall health. This important research will enhance medicine by delivering less invasive, more convenient testing methods for patients, and I would be very interested in offering this service if it meant one person was able to have their pancreatic cancer diagnosed early enough that treatment ended up being successful.”

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