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Pancreatic cancer could be identified in patients up to three years earlier than current diagnoses, new research suggests. Weight loss and increasing blood glucose levels are early indicators of pancreatic cancer and could lead to a more timely diagnosis, helping to improve survival rates.

Photomicrograph of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, an invasive malignant tumor associated with a poor prognosis.

In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the University of Oxford, in partnership with Pancreatic Cancer Action and the University of Surrey, investigated signs of pancreatic cancer, including weight loss, hyperglycaemia and diabetes and demonstrated the timelines for when they develop in relation to cancer. The pancreas is a vital organ with two key functions, to produce insulin and digestive enzymes. Cancer can affect one or both of these functions leading to the above symptoms. Currently, almost 90 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed too late for curative treatment.

Lead author Dr Agnieszka Lemanska, Lecturer in Data Science at the University of Surrey, said: 'Due to the difficulty in detecting pancreatic cancer, survival rates are extremely poor compared to other cancers, with less than 10 per cent of people surviving five years or more after diagnosis.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website

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