ROME, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Italian researchers have found a way to catch one of the rarest but deadliest cancers early enough to save more lives, according to Italian News Agency ANSA.
A team from the universities of Rome and Ancona have found a marker in human bile they claim can identify bile-duct cancer before surgery. The marker is called Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1,or IGF1 for short.
"IGF1 is able to give a definitive diagnosis of bile-duct cancer and marks it out with absolute accuracy from benign diseases of the bile ducts like stones or inflammation," said Domenico Alvaro of Rome's La Sapienza University.
"The discovery opens new and important prospects for the early diagnosis and new treatment of this cancer," said Alvaro's colleague Eugenio Gaudio.
Antonio Benedetti of Ancona University, who co-authored the new study for the Annals of Internal Medicine, stressed the importance of catching bile-duct cancer early.
"Nowadays diagnosis is only made when the disease is so advanced that surgery is the only option. But less than 30 percent of patients with such tumors can be operated on and they have a five-year life expectancy of less than 5 percent."
Bile-duct cancer is a malignant growth in the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine.
Cancer of the bile duct is rare and most prevalent in people aged 50 to 70.