Yale research zooms in on high-risk groups amid Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Researchers at Yale Cancer Center believe most advances in pancreatic cancer will be made through improving early detection, according to a Nov. 16 release.

In recognition of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month, James Farrell, MD, professor of Medicine at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, and director of Yale Center for Pancreatic Diseases, said researchers are focusing on three groups of high risk individuals as clinical trials are in development for new drug therapeutics. 

The first are those with a family history of the disease. 

"For this group, we perform regular, routine imaging, as well as follow blood markers using blood tests that help us look for the disease," said Dr. Farrell. 

Another high risk group is those with pancreatic cysts. Dr. Farrell noted that while not all cysts develop into cancer, new research has identified imaging and novel biomarkers to help monitor these individuals. 

The third group at higher risk for pancreatic cancer is those who develop new-onset diabetes, particularly in their 50s. 

"The exact mechanism isn’t clear, but scientists are linking these blood sugar abnormalities and realizing that they could be present up to three years before a patient is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Farrell. 

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