Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Radiation plus chemo reduces recurrence in some pancreatic cancer

Image provided by Mayo Clinic
CANCER DIGEST – Jan. 5, 2016 – Pancreatic cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and radiation after surgery were less likely to have the cancer recur within the five years following treatment than patients who only received chemotherapy after surgery.

The study by the Mayo Clinic involved 458 patients who had pancreatic cancer surgery between 1987 and 2011. A total of 378 patients received chemotherapy and radiation after surgery to remove the tumor in the pancreas and the nearby lymph nodes, while 80 of the patients only had chemotherapy after surgery.

When they analyzed the 5-year results the researchers found that 80 percent of those who had both chemo and radiation went 5 years without recurrence of the cancer within the same area of the pancreas treated, whereas 68 percent of those who only had the chemo after surgery had no recurrence in the same are of the organ.

A caveat of the study is that only about 15 percent of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are eligible for such treatment. Another 35 percent may be eligible for surgery, but because the cancer has spread to nearby blood vessels outside of the pancreas, such surgery  is much more complicated. For the other 50 percent of patients diagnosed, surgery is not an option because the diagnosis is made after the cancer has already spread or metastasized to other parts of the body.

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