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Specialist Scan Can Improve Diagnosis Accuracy for Pancreatic Cancer

IMPROVED diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and better determination of the stage of the condition can be achieved through the use of a PET-CT scan, according to research from the University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK. The study could lead to improved diagnosis and management for pancreatic cancer and has even informed the latest NICE guideline in these area.

Improved Accuracy
The PET-PANC trial recruited 550 patients across the UK with suspected pancreatic cancer who underwent a standard diagnostic workup, including an MDCT scan. The eligible patients gave informed consent and received a PET-CT within 2 weeks. In regard to the accuracy of diagnosis, the chances of having pancreatic cancer were increased by 55% with a positive PET-CT scan in patients who had a positive CT scan, whereas the odds were reduced in such patients by 95% with a negative PET-CT. Additionally, a positive PET-CT scan increased the odds of pancreatic cancer by 538% and a negative PET-CT by 46% in patients who had a negative CT.

The ability to determine the stage of cancer was also shown to be significantly enhanced with a PET-CT scan; staging was corrected in 14% of patients, with tumours upstaged to either a Stage 2B or a Stage 4 forming the majority of cases.

Improving Staging and Management
“Chief Investigator Dr Paula Ghaneh, University of Liverpool, commented: “Using PET-CT corrected the staging in patients with pancreatic cancer, influenced management in 45% of patients, and prevented futile resection in (20%) patients due to have surgery. Our results could have a significant impact on the diagnosis and management of pancreatic cancer by improving the staging and management of disease, ensuring that patients are not subjected to unnecessary surgery, and giving them earlier access.”

Cost-Effective Use
The only possible cure for pancreatic cancer is surgery; however, in the large majority of cases the cancer is inoperable or has already spread at the time of diagnosis. Therefore, quicker diagnosis of the condition to ensure surgery is successful more often is vitally important. The team also showed that using PET-CT would be a cost-effective method for the NHS.

James Coker, Reporter

For the source and further information about the study, click here.