GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest cancers to treat since the symptoms are often mild, resulting in a late-stage diagnosis, and a grim prognosis.

But a new, experimental blood test could change the way Pancreatic cancer is treated.

Researchers at Van Andel Institute have developed a simple test that distinguishes pancreatic cancers that respond to treatment from those that do not.

Brian Haab, Ph.D., says knowing which type of pancreatic cancer a person has is critical to finding a more tailored course of treatment, rather than a blanket treatment approach that only works in some people.

The test detects and measures the levels of a sugar called sTRA. Pancreatic cancers that produce sTRA do not respond well to chemotherapy.

Researchers plan to use the new test along with a 2019 combination test to help guide physicians toward the best treatment and outcome. “When used in sequence, we believe the combination test and the new sTRA test could help catch and identify pancreatic cancer more quickly and definitively,” said Haab.