New risk model could better identify people at high risk for pancreatic cancer

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Published: August, 2020

A new tool to identify people who might be at higher risk for pancreatic cancer could help doctors find cases earlier, when they are most treatable. Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health created a risk model that did a better job than current models of finding people at high risk for the disease. It takes into account clinical and genetic factors as well as blood levels of biomarkers (substances that could potentially indicate disease). To test the model researchers used data from four large clinical studies. They applied the tool to 500 known pancreatic cancer patients and more than 1,000 people without cancer. The researchers then assessed how well the tool would have predicted the risk of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer, which is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, is challenging to treat because most people already have advanced disease when they are diagnosed. It's hoped that identifying people who are at high risk will eventually allow doctors to screen these individuals to find cancers when they are smaller and more curable.

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