Swedish researchers have developed a new method for diagnosing pancreatic cancer at a much earlier stage than currently possible, the University of Gothenburg has said.
The test detects the first signs of the deadly disease with 97% accuracy, which researchers hope will help improve the low survival rate among those diagnosed.
Only 5% of patients with pancreatic cancer survive more than five years after their diagnosis as tumours often develop unnoticed and spread to other organs before being detected.
"We are very hopeful that the method will enable more instances of early discovery of pancreatic cancer at a stage when the cancer can be treated or prevented," Karolina Jabbar, part of the research team at the Sahlgrenska Academy, said in a statement.
"Thanks to this analysis, we can see at what stage the cancer is.
The test works like a normal endoscopy, where a tube is placed inside a patient's mouth and then fed down into the stomach.
"The difference is that the tube takes ultra sound (images) so you can see the organ much better and then you can take off fluids," said Ms Jabbar.
The procedure is not only expected to help detect cancers early but also reduce the risk of unnecessary surgery.
Existing tumours can be tested with the method, with an accuracy rate of about 90%, making it easier to determine if a patient needs immediate surgery.