December 7, 2017

Searching out pancreatic cancer risk

Vanderbilt researchers have identified a biomarker that could be used to predict pancreatic cancer risk.

A prospective study by Wei Zheng, Ph.D., M.D., and colleagues delivers the first direct epidemiological evidence that increased production of a chemical compound called prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), as measured by metabolites in urine (PGE-M), is associated with increased pancreatic cancer risk.

The study appears in the International Journal of Cancer.

From among more than 120,000 research subjects who provided urine samples before cancer diagnosis, Zheng’s team selected 239 who later developed pancreatic cancer, matching them with 483 cancer-free subjects.

Among the results: with other risk factors held equal, compared to those with the lowest PGE-M levels (the first quartile), individuals with the highest levels (the fourth quartile) had nearly twice the odds of developing pancreatic cancer.

“Our findings […] suggest that urinary PGE-M may serve as a promising cancer biomarker to predict pancreatic cancer risk,” the authors wrote.

Zheng’s team had previously shown that PGE2 is associated with greater risk for colorectal cancer, gastric cancer and breast cancer.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health (CA070867, CA173640, CA082729 and CA182910). Data for the study are from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study and the Shanghai Men’s Health Study. The Vanderbilt team was joined by researchers from the National Cancer Institute, Shanghai Jiaotong University, and the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences.

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