New model can identify those at greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer

A pancreatic cancer risk model that includes clinical and genetic factors, and circulating biomarkers, more successfully identified people with significantly greater than average risk of developing the disease than models using clinical factors alone, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Nearly 80% of patients are already in an advanced, incurable stage of the disease by the time they are diagnosed.

“Catching it at an earlier stage makes it more likely that surgery will be an option, increasing the chances of survival,” said senior author Peter Kraft, professor of epidemiology, in a news release quoted in Medpage Today.

The study, published April 22, 2020 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention, examined health data from 500 pancreatic cancer patients and 1,091 matched cancer-free patients in a control group, all of whom were participants in four large prospective cohort studies: the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, the Physicians’ Health Study, and the Women’s Health Initiative.

After modeling the three factors—clinical, genetic, and circulating biomarkers—separately, the researchers found that a model integrating them was able to identify a subset of 2% of men and 2.3% of women who had a three-fold or higher absolute risk for pancreatic cancer than the general U.S. population. Those in the model’s top 1% for pancreatic cancer risk had a 4% lifetime risk, and a 2% 10-year risk at age 70.

Read the Medpage Today article: Another Step Towards Earlier Detection of Pancreatic Cancer