The Rapid Diagnostic Pathway

A three year multicentre project into early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. This UCL project is led by Dr Steve Pereira and sponsored by charitable funds, including Pancreatic Cancer UK, Gemma Fund, Nicki’s Smile as well our charity fund Fiorina. Its aims are to identify patients with early pancreatic cancer by testing symptomatic “high risk” patients with a panel of blood biomarkers. Validation of a diagnostic biomarkers panel combined with “symptoms tool” for early detection of pancreatic cancer could potentially save hundreds of lives in the UK every year.

Research findings so far into identifying early biomarkers for pancreatic cancer are promising. The project has also found that some early symptoms which patients have reported are often not recognised as possible pancreatic cancer in its early stages. The study aims to adopt these promising biomarkers for pancreatic cancer into routine clinical practice as well as alternative diagnostic strategies.

Our aim is to reduce the delay between the appearance of symtoms and a confirmed diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. This project brings together subject experts from London and Liverpool to join the dots between symptoms, early markers of the disease and access to treatment. We should be able to identify and treat patients quickly and more efficiently to give them the best chance against pancreatic cancer.

Our findings will also provide primary care physicians (such as GP’s) with a Rapid Diagnostic Pathway for patients with pancreatic cancer. Please donate to this research project and help us save lives.


The Fiorina Fund has supported a new diagnostic tool at the Royal Fee Hospital. A camera with a needle (the size of a pin) which is inserted into the tumour which gives immediate and a more accurate diagnosis within 30 minutes, (compared with up to two weeks for a biopsy). This could save the need from having an actual biopsy.

The endomicroscope was developed in France and is so powerful it can see individual cells and the blood vessels that run between them. What distinguishes a benign pancreatic cyst from a potentially malignant one is the appearance of the cyst wall. Small, regular cells and a uniform pattern indicate it is benign; large, disorganised cells suggest it could be malignant.

Until now, because the pancreas is difficult to access, it has been almost impossible to observe these characteristics unless the pancreas is removed. But this new method allows doctors to see how advanced the disease is so that the patient can be told immediately if they need surgery.

The endomicroscope is passed through the mouth into the stomach, it is a flexible tube with a camera, with the patient sedated. It is inserted into the cyst to capture images that are displayed on a screen. This piece of equipment can help with a quicker diagnosis and possibly avoid hours of complicated surgery or follow up scans over many years. Dr Pereira at The Royal Free Hospital was the first UK doctor to use this piece of equipment inside the pancreas.