Knowing that patients typically do not show symptoms of pancreatic cancer until it is advanced, making early diagnosis and treatment a challenge, a team of researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (Columbus, OH) used a technique called endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)-guided needle-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (nCLE) to definitively diagnose cysts in the pancreas with unprecedented accuracy.
The current standard involves testing the fluid inside the cysts. It correctly identifies them as benign or precancerous 71% of the time. Researchers found that when the virtual biopsy is added to the standard of care, the diagnostic accuracy jumps to 97%.
“Pancreatic cysts are common, and it can be difficult to distinguish the benign cysts from those destined to become cancerous, but this procedure allows us to do that quickly and with confidence,” says Dr. Somashekar Krishna, a gastroenterologist and lead author of the study. “We hope that, at the end of the day, we are saving lives either by diagnosing pancreatic cancer early on before it develops into cancer, or we are preventing unnecessary surgery of a benign, harmless pancreatic cyst.”