Adding two blood-borne proteins associated with cancer cell migration increases the predictive ability of the current biomarker for pancreatic cancer to detect early-stage disease, an MD Anderson research team reports in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The trio of biomarkers, tested in three separate cohorts, including two blinded validation studies, improved the detection of patients with early-stage disease compared to healthy or benign disease controls.
“Adding these two biomarkers provided statistically significant improvement for all early-stage cancer versus healthy controls, as well as other subcohorts when used with the current gold-standard biomarker, CA 19-9,” said Ann Killary, Ph.D., professor of Translational Molecular Pathology.
While CA 19-9 is the only biomarker approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration, and only for monitoring treatment for the disease, according to first author Seetharaman Balasenthil, Ph.D., instructor in Translational Molecular Pathology. The marker of antigens produced by pancreatic cancer has a low positive predictive value for identifying early-stage disease.
At early stages, pancreatic cancer can be successfully removed with surgery, but 80% of patients are diagnosed with either locally advanced disease (stage III) or cancer that has spread to other organs (stage IV), when surgery is no longer a curative option.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of deaths from cancer in the United States, with an estimated 53,070 new cases diagnosed in 2016 and 41,780 deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute.
“Our goal is to identify more patients at those earlier, resectable stages, when treatment could lead to a five year survival rate of 30 percent or more, depending on stage,” Killary said. Only about 7% of patients survive for five years following diagnosis of the disease.
Additional studies in larger cohorts will be needed to validate these findings, and more biomarkers will be needed to get the completely accurate set needed to screen the general population with the long term goal of identifying precursor lesions before they become malignant.
Read more about the study in the MD Anderson Newsroom.