Pancreatic cancer: a glimmer of hope thanks to new chemotherapy

Adjuvant chemotherapy is effective in increasing survival in people with metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer accounts for 1.8% of cancers in France, but it is one of the deadliest in Europe with lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer. Between 1990 and 2016, the death rate from pancreatic cancer increased by 5%. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers show the effectiveness of a new adjuvant chemotherapy.

More chances of survival

In this study, two protocols were compared. Gemcitabine chemotherapy and chemotherapy called Folfirinox, the latter being composed of three molecules. 493 patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer participated in the study. Each patient was randomly assigned one of two chemotherapy protocols. The results showed that the median survival rate was significantly higher for patients who received the Folfirinox protocol. Thus at three years of follow-up, the survival rate was 39.7%, against 21.4% for the other group.

Attention to side effects

However, with the Folfirinox protocol, patients experienced more grade 3 and 4 side effects, that is, severe to very severe. These adverse events occurred in 75.9% of patients who received the Folfirinox protocol, and in 52.9% of patients who benefited from the Gemcitabine protocol. A grade 3 side effect prevents the patient from carrying out daily activities. Grade 4 side effect is a threat to the patient's prognosis.

Discover the disease sooner

If pancreatic cancer is so deadly, it's because it's usually not diagnosed early enough. One of the objectives of the scientific community is therefore to improve the diagnosis. Recently, Swedish researchers have developed a new blood test that can rapidly detect biomarkers of pancreatic cancer. A glimmer of hope, too, to fight the disease.

Video: Immunotherapy: Sorting the Hype from the Hope. Lindsey Pujanandez Science Translational Medicine (December 2019).