Experimental Combination Treatment Offers Improved Survival in Pancreatic Cancer

According to a story from Medpage Today, a recent, small scale, early study of patients with local but advanced pancreatic cancer revealed that an experimental combination treatment comprised of chemoradiation and the investigational DNA repair inhibitor drug adavosertib could provide improved survival times. The authors of the study concluded that the encouraging findings warrant continued trials involving the approach. The original study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

About Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer. The disease affects the pancreas, which is a glandular organ that is situated behind the stomach. Part of the reason that pancreatic cancer is so dangerous is that it rarely produces noticeable symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage and begun to spread. However, even when detected earlier, it is difficult to treat effectively. Risk factors for this cancer include being male, old age, African-American ancestry, family history, smoking, obesity, diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, and a diet heavy in red meat, processed meat, or meat cooked at very high temperatures. Symptoms include depression, upper abdominal pain, jaundice, diabetes, constipation, weight loss, and appetite loss. Treatment approaches for this cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Even with heavy treatment, pancreatic cancer almost always returns. The five year survival rate is just five percent. To learn more about pancreatic cancer, click here.

About The Study

In the study, the experimental combination treatment was able to produce a median survival time of 21.7 months. This is a significant improvement over chemoradiation alone, which produces a median survival of around 12 to 14 months. While the improvement is substantial, it is possible that the difference could disappear in a larger scale, randomized trial. This study involved only 34 patients with a median age of 68 years.

Adavosertib impedes DNA repair by targeting a protein called Wee1. DNA repair is a principle way that pancreatic cancer is able to build resistance to chemotherapy and radiation, but the addition of adavosertib should cause a tumor become more sensitive to these approaches. Ultimately, further study will be essential for determining if adavosertib will become a major component of pancreatic cancer treatment.

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