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Scientists believe they are close to a blood test for pancreatic cancer - one of the hardest tumours to detect and treat.
The test, which they describe as "a major advance", hunts for tiny spheres of fat that are shed by the cancers.
Early results published in the journal Nature showed the test was 100% accurate.
Experts said the findings were striking and ingenious, but required refinement before they could become a cancer test.
The number of people who survive 10 years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is less than 1% in England and Wales compared with 78% for breast cancer.
The tumour results in very few symptoms in its early stages and by the time people become unwell, the cancer has often spread around the body and become virtually untreatable.
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