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Protein shows up early in deadly cancer

A newly identified molecular marker of pancreatic cancer may help spot the disease at its earliest stages, when it can be treated more successfully with surgery.

In a report published in the online journal PLoS One, the researchers showed that a specific form of a protein called palladin is produced in large amounts in the “tumor nest,” the cells that surround a pancreatic tumor.

By measuring the levels of this form of palladin in patient samples, doctors could have an improved way to screen for the deadly cancer, possibly catching it earlier than ever before, says senior study author Carol Otey, associate professor of cell and molecular physiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“The problem with pancreas cancer is it is almost never caught at an early stage,” says Otey. “By the time a person develops suspicious symptoms, the disease has typically progressed too far. But if you can diagnose it early, it can be treated very effectively with surgery.”

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