There is currently no standard diagnostic tool or established early detection method for pancreatic cancer. When diagnosed early, surgical resection offers the best chance for long-term control of pancreatic cancer, yet most patients are diagnosed at later stages and are not eligible for surgery. Tests sensitive enough to detect pancreatic cancer in its earliest stages are therefore urgently needed.
Pancreatic cancer has four stages that describe the development of the disease.
Early stages are considered stage I and stage II due to the fact that the tumor is resectable; the disease has not spread into the body and the patient can undergo surgery. In stage IA, tumor size is less than 2 cm whereas in stage IB, it is larger than 2 cm but still not spread to nearby organs. In stage IIA, the cancer has spread to nearby tissue and organs, but not to nearby lymph nodes. In stage IIB, the disease has spread to nearby lymph nodes, tissue and organs
Today, patients are diagnosed in the late stages (stage III and stage IV). In stage III, the disease has spread to the major blood vessels near the pancreas and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. In stage IV, tumors may be any size and the disease has spread to both nearby and distant organs, such as the lung, liver and peritoneal cavity.
Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed primarily through the use of computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), laparoscopy and biopsy. Unfortunately, these tests have not proven to be 100% effective at detecting small lesions, pre-cancers or early stage cancers, which may be more possible to treat effectively.
For individuals at increased risk due to family history or other factors, effective early screening methods are especially important. A blood test that identifies a specific substance in the blood that is highly indicative of cancer, such as the PSA test for prostate cancer, is the ideal early detection method because of its ease of use and cost-effectiveness. IMMray™ PanCan-d is the first blood-based test for early and specific (differential) diagnosis, providing clinicians with actionable information. Immunovia has defined a clinically relevant panel of serum biomarkers (a biomarker signature) associated with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. This biomarker panel can be used for differential diagnosis at an early stage of the cancer. The test will be suitable for screening risk-groups as well as investigating patients with suspected symptoms. IMMray™ PanCan-d is not available yet as several clinical evidence studies are ongoing.