Why OpsisDx? Pancreatic Cancer

‘Why OpsisDx?’ is a blog series written by people part of the Entopsis-verse and offers insights into potential OpsisDxTM addressable medical conditions.

Cancer is probably one of the most apprehended conditions in the modern world. Raising to the spotlight in the 20th century and becoming increasingly prevalent while also acquiring higher incidence rates, it is no surprise why this condition has spiked scientists’ interest as well as fueled funding on diagnostics and therapeutics (1). As of 2018, there were 18mil new cases of cancer worldwide, and, around 430K deaths caused by cancer in the pancreas alone (2). 

As illustrated by this elevated number, pancreatic cancer (PC) remains one of the deadliest cancer types in addition to lacking a detailed etiology. However, risk factors for PC do aide in establishing a clear profile for people at risk, i.e., smokers, obese patients, or factors like diet, genetics and, inactivity (3). 

As of now, diagnostic tools for pancreatic cancer are limited to imaging modalities, tissue acquisition and endoscopic ultrasound. Imaging techniques are used in conjunction with close observation of pancreatic duct dilation and caliber changes (4). Even with current advancements in imaging technology, pancreatic cancer detection/diagnosis is usually protracted because symptoms rarely manifest early, enabling a higher likelihood of metastasis while at the same time decreasing the likelihood of patient survival (5, 6). Additionally, due to the intrinsic difficulty in assessing dubious masses in the pancreas, it is critical to explore other diagnostic tools that might perhaps elucidate the development of this condition. These reasons drive pancreatic cancer to be an important focus of research, illustrated by a 400% increase in funding from the year 2000 to the year 2011 (5). 

Furthermore, cancer in the pancreas is the fourth leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States. To bolster this fact, even patients who complete treatment with chemotherapy, resection and radiation, have a staggering survival of only 20% in 5 years (7). Elucidating molecular aberrations via early diagnostics is a promising tool to aide in haltering disease progression. 

  1. Roy, P S, and B J Saikia. “Cancer and cure: A critical analysis.” Indian journal of cancer vol. 53,3 (2016): 441-442. doi:10.4103/0019-509X.200658
  2. “Cancer Today”. Gco.Iarc.Fr, 2020, https://gco.iarc.fr/today/fact-sheets-cancers.
  3. Ilic, Milena, and Irena Ilic. “Epidemiology of pancreatic cancer.” World journal of gastroenterology vol. 22,44 (2016): 9694-9705. doi:10.3748/wjg.v22.i44.9694
  4. Chu, Linda C et al. “Diagnosis and Detection of Pancreatic Cancer.” Cancer journal (Sudbury, Mass.) vol. 23,6 (2017): 333-342. doi:10.1097/PPO.0000000000000290
  5. “Cancer Today”. Gco.Iarc.Fr, 2020, https://gco.iarc.fr/today/fact-sheets-cancers.
  6. Lin, Quan-Jun et al. “Current status and progress of pancreatic cancer in China.” World journal of gastroenterology vol. 21,26 (2015): 7988-8003. doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i26.7988
  7. Mohammed, Somala et al. “Pancreatic cancer: advances in treatment.” World journal of gastroenterology vol. 20,28 (2014): 9354-60. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i28.9354
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