Pancreatic cancer is made up of at least 4 separate diseases according the latest research
Pancreatic cancer still has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer, with a paltry 1% of patients alive 10 years post-diagnosis. There is a dire need to understand the complexity of the disease further, and research is now suggesting pancreatic cancer is more of a collection of diseases, which should be treated accordingly.
An analysis of 456 patients with pancreatic cancer revealed the cancers could be split into 4 main classes: squamous-type, pancreatic progenitor,
immunogenic and aberrantly differentiated endocrine exocrine. Squamous-type varieties are especially dangerous, with a survival time less than half of the remaining 3.
"So this knowledge reveals what makes these cancers tick and which ones may be vulnerable to particular treatments by defining the Achilles' heel of every cancer"
Pancreatic cancer is stubbornly resistant to conventional treatment, and by understanding and targeting specific weaknesses in each type researchers hope to have greater success. Each class comes with particular vulnerabilities, and many doctors have noted certain patients respond exceptionally to treatments others do not. Immunogenic pancreatic cancer for example may respond better to immunotherapy tactics.
"If we can predict more accurately which treatment would be most effective for each patient, we can ensure patients have the best chance of living for as long as possible, as well as possible. Identifying different types of pancreatic cancer and revealing the disease's complexity is an important step towards finding more effective treatments"
Read more at BBC News