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Study finds drug combo extends life of pancreatic cancer patients

Pancreatic cancer is rare and aggressive. Many Oklahoma patients diagnosed with the disease die within a year of diagnosis, and a small percentage live for up to five years. However, a new study found that a four-drug combo can help early-stage pancreatic cancer patients live significantly longer than the current standard treatment.

Currently, around 15 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed before the cancer has spread. These patients are generally treated with surgery to remove the tumors and then chemotherapy with a drug called Gemzar. However, researchers at the Cancer Institute of Lorraine in Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France, found that a four-drug cocktail called folfirinox outperformed Gemzar in a study of nearly 500 patients. After surgery, patients in the study were treated with either folfirinox or Gemzar. An average of three years later, nearly two-thirds of folfirinox patients were still living and nearly 40 percent were cancer-free. In comparison, less than 50 percent of the Gemzar patients were still living and only 20 percent were cancer-free.

The results of the study are considered the biggest treatment breakthrough for pancreatic cancer in 25 years. Folfirinox is already used to treat patients with late-stage pancreatic cancer, and it is now expected to become the standard of care for early-stage patients. Each year, around 330,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed around the world. Of those, around 55,000 are in the United States.

An early diagnosis is critical for the survival of pancreatic cancer patients. Doctors who misdiagnose or fail to diagnose the disease could cause their patients to suffer a worsened medical condition and even death. Misdiagnosed cancer patients could find out more about their legal rights by speaking to a medical malpractice attorney.

Source: ABC News, “Study finds rare gain for tough-to-treat pancreatic cancer,” Lindsey Tanner, June 4, 2018