Unfortunately, a pancreatic cancer diagnosis also comes with a poor prognosis. Since many people do not receive a diagnosis until later stages of the cancer, the 5-year survival rate is only around 10%. On top of that, this cancer is often hard to treat. Thus, there is a huge unmet need to be filled within this realm. In a news release from Thomas Jefferson University, researchers suggest that there is one subset of drugs that could be used to improve overall survival for pancreatic cancer: hypertension medicine.
As the name suggests, hypertension medicine comprises of any medications used to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure. Within this population-based study, the researchers explored the intersection between hypertension treatments and pancreatic cancer survival. If you are interested in reading the full results, you can take a look at BMC Cancer.
Evaluating Hypertension Medications
Within this retrospective study, researchers evaluated data from 3.7 million adults. Altogether, within this group, researchers identified 8,158 individuals with pancreatic cancer over an 8-year period. Next, researchers were able to explore data from those taking hypertension medication in conjunction with cancer treatments as opposed to those who were not. Ultimately, the researchers found that:
- Patients taking ARB therapies (valsartan, losartan) with their cancer treatments saw a 20% reduction in mortality risk. This rose to 28% when the cancer treatment included surgical interventions.
- For those taking ACE inhibitors (benazepril, Lisinopril, ramipril), the hypertension treatments reduced mortality risk by 13% within the first 3 years.
- Researchers believe that these therapies could halt or interrupt cancer-growth pathways, leading to better patient outcomes.
In the end, researchers are unable to concretely say that hypertension medications can improve survival. More research, such as clinical trials, could be helpful in furthering the findings from this study. However, the research does suggest that hypertension medications may play at least a slight role in lowering the risk of mortality. In the future, additional studies could help present patients with a safe, affordable, and accessible therapeutic option.
About Pancreatic Cancer
As the name suggests, pancreatic cancer forms in the pancreas, an organ which releases enzymes to aid in digestion and hormones to aid in blood sugar management. There are multiple forms of pancreatic cancer. For example, pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are rare and form in hormone-producing cells. Alternately, pancreatic adenocarcinoma is more common and occurs in pancreatic ducts. Risk factors include age (45+), smoking cigarettes, obesity, being male, and having a family history of pancreatic cancer. Symptoms often do not appear until later stages of the cancer. These include:
- Worsening or newly onset diabetes
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucus membranes)
- Unintended weight loss
- Enlarged liver and gallbladder
- Dark urine
- Appetite loss
- Bowel obstructions
- Upper abdominal pain that may spread to the back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood clots
Learn more about pancreatic cancer.