There is a need for early warning diagnostics to detect “silent killer” cancers such as pancreatic, liver, GI and lung cancers. Most of these cancers are discovered at the late stage when acute symptoms appear and no cure is possible. Maybe an annual simple screening test could be developed that could accurately detect a molecular signature of these cancers.
It is a very sad situation indeed to see patients die just after two, four or six weeks post-diagnosis. Just this past weekend, our co-writer and industry analyst for this blog and our market research firm succumbed to an aggressive cancer of unknown primary origin that spread to the liver. She died in less than five weeks from diagnosis. The FDG- PET CT scan showed active cancers in the liver, pancreas, uterus and breast. Ultimately the oncologist concluded that the cancer likely came from the pancreas. May she rest in peace.
Close relatives interested in getting a PET scan for themselves were advised that the Radiology Dept. would only offer a PET scan after a patient was already diagnosed to have cancer. Whereas a PET scan is good at detecting cancer, it is a very expensive resource that hospitals choose to limit access to.
What is needed is an annual pre-symptomatic, accurate, low-cost multiple-molecular-marker, blood test that can screen for cancer at the earliest point – before a tumor is formed. The screening test would likely use a panel of biomarkers associated with the “silent cancers.”