Doctor and patient discuss treatment options before pancreatic cancer surgery

New report highlights advancements in the surgical management of pancreatic cancer.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) released its “Clinical Cancer Advances 2020” report earlier this week – aptly timed to coincide with World Cancer Day.

According to ASCO, the report, “highlights the most impactful research advances of the past year and identifies cancer research priorities to accelerate progress against cancer.”

For 2020, ASCO’s Advance of the Year was refinements in the surgical management of cancer. Specifically, the report describes progress in surgery for patients with advanced melanoma, renal cell carcinoma and pancreatic cancer.

For eligible patients, surgery is the best option for long-term survival of pancreatic cancer. Data show high-volume surgeons at high-volume hospitals have higher success rates and fewer complications. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) strongly recommends you have a high-volume pancreatic surgeon (more than 15 surgeries per year) perform the surgery.

Contact PanCAN Patient Services for a personalized list of surgeons and other healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat a high volume of pancreatic cancer patients in your area.

The pancreatic cancer surgical advances featured in the ASCO report focus on systemic treatments, or those that affect the entire body, available to patients before surgery. At diagnosis, a decision is often made whether a patient is – or could become – eligible for surgery.

In some cases, upfront systemic treatment (which often involves chemotherapy alone or in combination with radiation therapy) administered before surgery can shrink and alter a patient’s pancreatic tumor to make it removable with surgery.

The report highlights recent clinical trial results suggesting the combination chemotherapy FOLFIRINOX along with radiation therapy increases the likelihood and success of surgery for pancreatic cancer patients. A similar study showing the effectiveness of gemcitabine chemotherapy with radiation therapy before surgery was presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting in 2018.

The “Clinical Cancer Advances” report goes on to describe a novel approach to make more patients eligible for surgery – by introducing a blood pressure medication, losartan, in combination with chemotherapy and radiation.

Some of the pre-clinical laboratory research findings leading to this clinical trial were developed by Yves Boucher, PhD, thanks to an Innovative Grant awarded by PanCAN and funded by John M. Sobrato in loving memory of Abby Sobrato.

We’re pleased to see progress toward improving pancreatic cancer patient outcomes highlighted in this report. These advancements can make surgery an option for patients who may not have otherwise been candidates for the procedure, allowing them access to a treatment approach that may offer longer-term survival.

Contact a PanCAN Patient Services Case Manager
Contact Patient Services for information and resources about the treatment of pancreatic cancer, including clinical trials.