A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is oftentimes a death sentence for most patients because by the time it is detected using invasive methods, the cancer has already spread to other areas of the body. In most cases, by the time the disease is detected, a patient has an average of three to six months left to live. It's because of its high risk of death that pancreatic cancer is listed as a Compassionate Allowance, making a patient eligible for disability benefits.
If early detection were possible, doctors admit, treatments could begin sooner, giving patients longer to live and a greater chance of survivability. Early testing though has been out of scientists' reach since the disease was first discovered. That is until now.
According to several news sources already, including CBS News, scientists believe that they have found a way to detect early stages of pancreatic cancer using only a urine sample. By examining samples from patients with the disease and those without, researchers were able to identify three proteins that indicated the presence of the disease "more than 90 percent of the time."
Finding a method for early detection of this disease is huge for those in the medical field because it still isn't known what causes some patients to develop the disease while others do not. There are some predicting factors such as: a family history, obesity, a history of heavy smoking, and a new diagnosis of diabetes in individuals over the age of 50. But these do not always indicate a person's true risk of developing the disease or their chances of survival once diagnosed.
Depending on results from further tests, this newly created method for detecting pancreatic cancer could become more widely used, helping patients increase their chances of surviving what is now a very fatal disease.