Chemotherapy with gemcitabine delays progression of operable pancreatic cancer

September 27, 2007

Barcelona, Spain: Giving pancreatic cancer patients the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine after surgery delays progression of the disease by about six months, according to new research by Japanese scientists.

The study, presented today (Thursday) at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14) in Barcelona, found that the drug more than doubled the average disease-free survival from 4.9 months to 11.4 months.

"We believe that a median disease-free survival of 11.4 months is an outstanding result. It means an improvement, or reduction in the risk of recurrence, of 41 percent," said the study's lead researcher, Dr Tomoo Kosuge, deputy director of the National Cancer Center Hospital in Tokyo, Japan. "That is difficult to achieve in patients with pancreatic cancer."

Pancreatic cancer has among the poorest prognoses. Most often, it has already spread by the time it is diagnosed, but in about 20 percent of patients, surgery is a viable option. However, even if it can be operated on, the cancer normally recurs and more than half of patients die within 20 months of their diagnosis. Only around 20 percent of them are still alive five years after being diagnosed.

Chemotherapy with gemcitabine is the standard treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer that cannot be operated on. As for resectable pancreatic cancer, researchers are investigating whether chemotherapy or chemoradiation might help. However, there is no universally accepted adjuvant treatment for patients whose pancreas can be removed, so mere observation after surgery is still the widely accepted approach.

In the latest study, 118 patients whose pancreatic cancer could be cut out were either given gemcitabine chemotherapy after surgery or closely monitored by doctors. Both groups were followed for more than 20 months.

The disease recurred in 72 percent of the patients getting gemcitabine, compared with 85 percent of those on observation. The overall survival, meaning survival regardless of whether the disease progressed, was better in the gemcitabine group, but those results were not statistically significant.

"In the results of our study, the lack of a significant difference in the overall survival means the observation approach was not altogether negated. We therefore propose that chemotherapy with gemcitabine, as well as observation, now be considered as optimal treatment for patients with operable pancreatic cancer," Kosuge said.

The Japanese study bolsters the findings of a German study published earlier this year that similarly found gemcitabine delays progression of the disease after surgery.
-end-


ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.