Researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center shared that patients suffering from pancreatic cancer whose tumors respond most to preoperative chemotherapy and radiation manage to survive four times, on average, as compared to those whose tumors respond least.
This kind of cancer is rarely detected in early stages, which makes the treatment very difficult and the rate of survival is very low. The Center conducted the first experiment in pancreatic cancer of "multimodal" preoperative therapy in 1986.
Dr. Yun Shin Chun is leading the current study and this time the researchers wanted to know whether response to preoperative therapy forecasts survival in pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
Chun said, "For many cancers -- breast, esophagus, stomach, and colorectal liver metastases -- it has been shown that survival is much better in people who have a good pathologic response to preoperative therapy--meaning that many tumor cells are killed--than in people who do not have a good pathologic response".
He added that this has not been established in pancreatic cancer. A data on 135 patients, who had preoperative therapy and surgery, was reviewed by the researchers.
The slides of the patients' tumors were examined by pathologist Dr. Harry Cooper, who classified their response to preoperative treatment as minor, partial, or major. The median survival was more than five years for patients whose tumors showed major response to preoperative therapy, as compared to seventeen months for those who showed minor response.