15-Year-Old Creates Test for Pancreatic Cancer

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Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose, oftentimes not detected until the most advanced stages. However, new advances in medical science have provided a way to find pancreatic cancer before it spreads.

New advances made by a 15-year-old Maryland high school student.

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North County High School freshman Jack Andraka earned the grand prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for creating a test that can detect early-stage pancreatic cancer with 90% accuracy and at a cheaper rate than other tests.

“It detects an abnormal protein that you find in the blood when you have a pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Anirban Maitra, professor of pathology, oncology and chemical and biomolecular engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told CBS affiliate WJZ-13. “He conceived this idea, and I think the fact that he is 15 makes this whole story more remarkable.”

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An estimated 44,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year; of those patients, 94% will die within five years of diagnosis and 74% will die within the first year. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.

“I got interested in early detection because that’s the best chance of treating cancer,” Jack said. “The only practical way of doing this is through routine blood tests, so that’s what I’ve developed here.”

Jack won $100,000 in prize money, which he plans to put toward college.

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