We report a patient with pancreatic cancer in whom telomerase activity had been detected in the pancreatic juice 19 months before he was diagnosed as having pancreatic cancer. A 61-yr-old alcoholic man complaining of epigastric and back pain was diagnosed as having groove pancreatitis based on the presence of inflammation in the pancreatic head and its extension to the duodenal mucosa with an associated elevated serum amylase level. All imaging modalities showed no sign of a tumor. However, high telomerase activity was detected in the pancreatic juice collected during endoscopic retrograde pancreatography. His symptoms subsided due to abstinence from alcohol. A tumor, however, was recognized on computed tomography 19 months later, at which time the patient immediately underwent a pylorus-preserving pancreaticoduodenectomy. The carcinoma was located mainly in the Santorini duct region. High telomerase activity in the pancreatic juice may precede clinical detection of pancreatic cancer and thus could be a useful early diagnostic marker for pancreatic cancer.
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