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Early Detection Initiative

Lustgarten Foundation-Funded Research Study Holds
Potential to Detect Pancreatic Cancer at Earliest Stages

The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center announced results from a new research study that holds the potential to detect pancreatic cancer at an early stage by determining harmless pancreatic cysts from precancerous ones. Published in the July 20 edition of the prestigious Science Transnational Medicine, the research study was primarily funded by The Lustgarten Foundation and represents the first study from projects that were created through The Lustgarten Foundation’s Pancreatic Cancer Research Consortium.

Led by Dr. Bert Vogelstein, a Pancreatic Cancer Research Consortium member and scientific advisor of The Lustgarten Foundation, the research is a cooperative effort between Johns Hopkins and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in collaboration with Indiana University. Johns Hopkins and Memorial Sloan Kettering both serve on the Foundation’s Consortium. Created in 2010, the Consortium is a collaboration involving six world-renowned medical institutions to advance the most promising research initiatives aimed at ultimately finding a cure for pancreatic cancer.

A significant percentage of pancreatic cancers begin as pancreatic cysts, fluid filled growths in the pancreas.  This study has uncovered a specific combination of gene mutations that can distinguish cancerous cysts from some non-cancerous cysts by obtaining small volumes of liquid obtained from patients by needle biopsy.  This is a critical step toward early detection that holds the potential for testing cysts that have been discovered through imaging technologies, like an MRI, using endoscopy techniques (similar to a colonoscopy).  Dangerous cysts would be removed immediately, before they became a malignant cancer, and benign cysts could safely be left alone without the risks of unnecessary surgery.

For more information, please see the full press release from Johns Hopkins.

 

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