Pancreatic Cancer: Better Screening & Obesity Connection

Pancreatic cancer, pancreatic cancer updates


New research on treatment and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer has been coming out the last few weeks.  We wanted to give you an update on the newest information.

Better Diagnostic Criteria for Pancreatic Cancer

Currently pancreatic cancer is 94% fatal within five years of diagnosis.  More than 38,000 people die per year of the disease making if the fourth mostly deadly form of cancer.

Currently pancreatic cancer is diagnosed by biopsy and due to the nuances of the cells, the accuracy rate is in the high 80% range using current techniques.  Researchers at the University of Missouri looked at 16 different characteristics detectable by biopsy and developed a group of four markers that allows a pathologist to diagnose the disease with 93% accuracy, a substantial improvement.

The four features via are …

  • A wide variation in the size of pancreatic cells’ nuclei, called anisonucleosis
  • Oversized nucleoli, called macronucleoli
  • Single atypical epithelia cells, a type of cell found in the pancreas
  • Mucinous metaplasia, which is the production of mucin in cells that normally don’t produce the substance

Pancreatic cancer outcomes complicated with high BMI

Patients who were obese pre-diagnosis have worse outcomes than healthy-weight patients.  A study from Dana Farber Cancer Institute found that having a BMI of 35 or greater in the 18 to 20 years prior to diagnosis increased risk of death 2.31 times.

Researchers examined data from 902 patients culled from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.   65% of patients had metastic disease, 19.3% had localized disease and 15.3% had locally advanced disease.

“These data emphasize the link between chronic alterations in systemic metabolism and pancreatic cancer survival and suggest obesity-related metabolic pathways for possible therapeutic intervention in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma,” the researchers concluded.

Pancreatic cancer is such a deadly disease.  Obesity appears to cause yet another medical complication and we have improved pathology outcomes to diagnose more quickly and accurately so patients can optimize their treatment.

We will be discussing treatment options in more depth at our Oncology Hub inside Sermo.  If you’re an M.D. or a D.O. please join the conversation.


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