Wednesday 25 January 2017

Pancreatic Cancer Life Saving Drug Revealed

Pancreatic Cancer

Pairing chemotherapy therapies gemcitabine and capecitabine dramatically increases the odds of sufferers living at least five years, tests showed.

The breakthrough treatment should now become the new standard of care for patients who have had surgery, experts said.

Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of the 21 most common types of the disease because it is often picked up late.

But trial results published today have prompted scientists to describe the combination therapy as a “golden opportunity” to extend lives.

Each year about 9,600 people in the UK are diagnosed with the disease and 8,800 die from it.

Just five per cent of sufferers can expect to live five years and just one per cent are still alive a decade after diagnosis. Survival rates have improved little since the early 1970s.

Fresh hope comes after more than 700 patients from Britain, Germany, Sweden and France took part in the Espac 4 trial which compared post-surgery treatment using both drugs and gemcitabine, the most common current post operative treatment, alone.

The findings, published in The Lancet, showed 29 per cent of patients receiving the combination lived at least five years compared to just 16 per cent of patients restricted to gemcitabine.

Pancreatic Cancer UK called for it to be made available on the NHS claiming it would result in 100 extra patients each year living for five years or more.

Head of research Leanne Reynolds said: “These results are a monumental leap forward in pancreatic cancer treatment.

Pancreatic Cancer

“We believe this could herald a true step change in the treatment of this tough cancer, offering substantially more patients who have had surgery the chance to live for longer and crucially, without significant added side effects.

"We urge the NHS to introduce this treatment across the UK for patients who have had surgery immediately. Since the early 1970s there has been so little progress for patients in research, treatments and survival rates.

“Golden opportunities like this to transform patients’ lives do not come along often, so we must grab this one with both hands.”

Side effects from the combination treatment were no worse than those experienced by patients on gemcitabine alone, results showed.

They included an impaired immune system and increased risk of infection, bleeding or bruising problems, fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea and flu-like symptoms.

The results were first presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology last year but have now been peer reviewed, prompting excitement among experts.

Professor John Neoptolemos, from the University of Liverpool who led the trial, said: “This is one of the biggest ever breakthroughs prolonging survival for pancreatic cancer patients.

"When this combination becomes the new standard of care it will give many patients living with the disease valuable months and even years.

"The difference in short-term survival may seem modest but improvement in long-term survival is substantial for this type of cancer.”

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK whose chief clinician Professor Peter Johnson said: “Research that tells us more about how the disease grows and spreads and trials like this one will be key to improve survival for patients living with the disease.”



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