A simple urine test that could detect the most common form of pancreatic cancer (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma) much earlier than at present has been developed by scientists in England and Spain.

They found a series of 3 proteins only present in people with the disease. People with other pancreatic issues such as pancreatitis did not make these proteins.

The problem with pancreatic cancer is that over 80% of people with the disease are diagnosed when it has already spread, so they are not eligible for surgery to remove the tumour - currently the only potential. Only 3% of patients are alive five years after diagnosis.

The scientists who developed the test hope that if its potential is realised then it could be possible to diagnose patients much earlier with a simple urine test through a GP, rather than using expensive scans.

What are pancreatic cancer risk factors?

Factors you can change:

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Type 2 diabetes: usually caused by carrying too much fat around the waist
  • Chronic pancreatitis (sometimes you can prevent this)
  • Factors you should be aware of (but can't change):
  • Type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune condition)
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer


Genetic conditions, such as:

  • Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome
  • Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
  • Lynch syndrome
  • Hereditary pancreatitis
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1)
  • Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome


How do I reduce my risk?
Along with stopping smoking, keeping a healthy weight, minimising alcohol and fat intake, research suggests that adding certain dietary compounds may help cut the risk of pancreatic cancer here Tara Whyand, oncology dietitian and ProfBiotics Nutrition Advisor explains all you need to know...

Curcumin
Curcumin is an extract taken from the Indian spice turmeric and has been shown to have benefits for patients with pancreatic problems. In parts of the world where the diet has high levels of curcumin, lower levels of pancreatic cancer are present. Curcumin may slow deterioration of glucose intolerance to type 2 diabetes and early studies show that curcumin may have a promising role managing pancreatitis.

To get enough curcumin to have an effect you would need to eat turmeric in most meals, every day!

Green Tea
Green tea strongest antioxidant compound is called Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This has been found to block pancreatic disease pathways. It has also shown hope for pancreatic cancer risk factors; EGCG may help prevent type 2 diabetes though anti-obesity pathways and treat pancreatitis.

To get enough green tea goodness to have an effect you would need to drink a few cups a day, every day.



Selenium
The benefits of the antioxidant selenium include a reduction in the risk of serious pancreatic diseases and better diabetes control. High doses selenium supplements should only be taken by people with low selenium levels.

To get enough selenium through your diet eat more foods containing selenium like nuts, oysters, liver, sunflower seeds and fish, and if you have a blood test that shows you are deficient, take a selenium containing supplement.

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