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Seeking early detection for pancreatic cancer


New research focuses on identifying disease before it becomes advanced to better treat and potentially cure

Earlier this year, much-loved game show host Alex Trebek died from a cancer that’s rare but extremely deadly: pancreatic cancer. In fact, the disease is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States.

Pancreatic cancer’s high mortality rate is due in large part to a lack of effective screening methods, according to Bechien Wu, MD, MPH, a gastroenterologist with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group and chair of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Regional Research Committee.

“By the time someone presents with symptoms it’s often far too late,” he says.

Dr. Wu and a team of physicians, biostatisticians, data scientists, epidemiologists, and radiologists are working to improve early detection of pancreatic cancer. Using information gleaned from the electronic health record, they’re looking for ways to identify patients at increased risk of developing the disease. They’re also exploring connections between pancreatic cancer and new-onset hyperglycemia and diabetes, particularly among people over 50.

“Research is really important in order to help us try to identify this cancer in an earlier stage when it can still be treated and potentially cured,” says Dr. Wu.

Watch this video and learn more about research at Kaiser Permanente.

This post is reprinted from the site.

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