Hope for earlier detection of pancreatic cancer

UK researchers found that patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and biliary tract cancers (BTC) were likely to visit their GP more often in the two years leading up to their diagnosis, prompting the authors to call changing attendance an “alarm feature for cancer”.

This is particularly if patients re-attend with the same alarm symptom or a constellation of alarm symptoms, they wrote.

In the year leading up to diagnosis, patients with PDAC visited their doctor 18 times, and those with BTC visited 22 times, compared to the control group’s 14 times.

Almost half of patients with PDAC and 37% of patients with BTC presented with abdominal pain, compared to 11% of the control group.

In a case-control study examining all patients diagnosed with PDAC and BTC in a UK primary care database of more than 11 million patient records, the researchers found significant overlap of the symptoms for both.