Fluid filled pockets called “cysts” are often found on routine imaging — most are benign but 15% may turn into cancer.

A new blood test, studied at the University of Pittsburgh, may help to rule out cancer in people with pancreatic cysts.

Current guidelines recommend looking at three different things to determine if a pancreatic cyst was likely to be cancerous.

First, getting MRIs to monitor the cyst for growth. 

Second, looking at the size of the pancreatic duct – an increase is more likely to be cancer. 

And third, looking for the presence of an abnormal lump on the cyst wall.

By following these guidelines, clinicians are able to effectively rule out the presence of cancer 72% of the time.

With the addition of this new blood test, clinicians may be able to rule out cancer 96% of the time.

While pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed very late in the course of the disease, this new blood test is a promising step forward in pancreatic cancer research.