Researchers studying pancreatic cancer have made a major breakthrough that they believe could save lives.
A team in London discovered that the cancer can start and develop is two distinct ways.
The discovery was made thanks to new 3D imaging technology.
In the past, scientists have analysed 2D sections of the pancreas with abnormal growths without being able to explain the abnormalities.
Studying the organ’s tissue in 3D, the team saw that there are two types of cancer formations – one that grows inwards and one that grows outwards.
This has helped the researchers “solve the decades-old mystery of how tumours form,” they say in their report.
They believe that this new information could help with diagnosis and treatment of the disease in the future.
The research was led by Dr Axel Behrens and Dr Guillaume Salbreux at London’s Francis Crick Institute.
“Now we know pancreatic cancer can develop in these two different ways, we can start looking at whether one is likely to be more aggressive or spread in a different way,” Dr Behrens said.
“Many years from now, this could lead to improved diagnostic or treatment options.”
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease.
Less than seven percent of those with pancreatic cancer survive five years beyond diagnosis.