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Bile Protein May Help Detect Pancreatic Cancer

Bile Protein May Help Detect Pancreatic Cancer

10/14/13

MONDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A protein "biomarker" in bile correctly identifies pancreatic cancer and may detect the cancer earlier than some markers in blood, according to a new study.

The researchers found that this marker -- called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) -- accurately distinguished pancreatic cancer from other causes of common problems in the bile duct, correctly detecting pancreatic cancer in 93 percent of cases.

Patients with cancer of the pancreatic head or the common bile duct usually have bile duct obstruction or jaundice. Bile duct obstruction, however, can also be due to noncancerous causes such as bile duct stones, the researchers said.

Bile duct obstruction is a blockage in the tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine. Bile helps with digestion.

This study of 53 patients with bile duct obstruction found that VEGF levels in bile were significantly higher in patients with pancreatic cancer. The findings were to be presented Monday at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting, in San Diego. Findings presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"Differentiating pancreatic cancer from other problems that also cause jaundice is important, as treatment approach is very different," study author Dr. Udayakumar Navaneethan, of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said in an organization news release.

"Since bile is produced in the liver and passes through the bile duct and mixes with pancreatic secretions, measurement of markers in bile could identify cancer earlier than measuring some markers in blood," Navaneethan said. "We can measure VEGF in bile fluid, which is an inexpensive test, and confirm the presence of cancer rather than other expensive investigations."

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about pancreatic cancer.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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