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New UW research could help detect pancreatic cancer



Many diagnosed die within a year because symptoms resemble flu

Around 71 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die with in the first year of diagnosis. Eight person have just a five-year survival rate. 

A study from scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison might have found a breakthrough in detecting the disease sooner before it spreads.

The link is the shape of collagen, a natural protein in the body that is around the tumor. Patients died at a higher rate where that collagen is straight and rigid, instead of wavy – which is normally. The research came from studying 114 pancreatic cancer patients.

“If we could use it later to look at each core and have that to help us make treatment decisions, that would be great,” Gundersen Health System oncologist Agnes Smaradottir. “If we can find out why it’s so resistant to treatment and why it’s survived all our attacks, that would be one piece of the puzzle.”

The disease passed breast cancer this year for the third most cancer deaths and is expected to rise to second by 2030.

Many diagnosed with the disease survive less than a year, since symptoms resemble the flu and there is no detectable test.


Born in Decorah Iowa. I've been a news reporter for the last 10 years, starting right out of college in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Other professional opportunities led me to Marshalltown, Iowa and Antigo Wisconsin, before I finally was afforded the opportunity here in La Crosse. I've been here since 2016. I also act as the voice of local sports, doing play by play of high school and college football and basketball. When not working I enjoy golfing.

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