A diagnostic test that uses a scientific method called metabolomic analysis helps detect pancreatic cancer early, and therefore, improve the prognosis of patients with the disease.
The effectiveness of metabolomic analysis as a diagnostic method for pancreatic cancer has been investigated and this novel technique was proven successful and as screening method, and it is safe and easy.
Scientists at Kobe University (Japan) enrolled patients with pancreatic cancer, patients with chronic pancreatitis, and healthy participants, between February 2009 and February 2012. The experts measured the levels of metabolites in their blood by using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS).
Forty-three patients with pancreatic cancer and 42 healthy subjects were randomly assigned to a training set and 42 pancreatic cancer patients and 41 healthy participants to a validation set. All 23 chronic pancreatitis patients were included in the validation set.
According to an examination of the metabolomic data that came from the training set, levels of 18 metabolites were notably different in the pancreatic cancer patients'' blood as opposed to the healthy individuals. The GC/MS analysis was done using a GCMSQP2010 Ultra (Shimadzu; Kyoto, Japan).
In further analysis, the scientists created a technique to predict a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer using evaluation of the levels of only four metabolites, xylitol, 1,5-anhydro-D-glucitol, histidine, and inositol. In the training set, the method showed 86% sensitivity and 88.1% specificity. In the validation set, which consisted of patients with chronic pancreatitis, the approach showed 71.4% sensitivity and 78.1% specificity.
Masaru Yoshida, MD, PhD, the senior author of the study said, "Our diagnostic approach using serum metabolomics possessed higher accuracy than conventional tumor markers, especially at detecting the patients with pancreatic cancer in the cohort that included the patients with chronic pancreatitis. This novel diagnostic approach, which is safe and easy to apply as a screening method, is expected to improve the prognosis of patients with pancreatic cancer by detecting their cancers early, when still in a resectable and curable state." The study was published on April 3, 2013, in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention.