Pancreatic Cancer?

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Jun 12, 2019
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What You Need to Know:

Pancreatic cancer is a brutal disease with the shortest expected survival rate of any solid tumor cancers. It is on pace to become the second leading cause of all cancer deaths in the United States. Nearly 57,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and nearly 46,000 will die from this disease in 2019. There has been little hope for long-term survival in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer until promising clinical trial data was recently released for a small subgroup of pancreatic cancer patients.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III international clinical trial entitled, Pancreas Cancer OLaparib Ongoing (POLO) demonstrated positive results and hope for these patients. There was a significant reduction in the risk of pancreatic cancer disease progression or death in patients in the olaparib arm with metastatic pancreatic cancer who also had inherited mutations in the BRCA 1 and 2 genes, which are present in 7% of pancreatic cancers. One hundred fifty-four patients met inclusion criteria for the POLO study. Persons randomized to the olaparib arm received a first-line platinum-based chemotherapy for several weeks, followed by olaparib as the maintenance treatment four to eight weeks after the last dose of chemotherapy. 

Progression-free survival, the primary endpoint, was longer than seven months in the olaparib arm versus nearly four months in the placebo arm. Almost 25% of patients on olaparib had a positive response to the drug for a median of two years, which far exceeds the typical survival of less than twelve months for these patients. These encouraging results she’d new light on the benefits of testing patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer for germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

Read More about Pancreatic Cancer and Available Treatments:

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20e: Chapter 79. Pancreatic Cancer

The MD Anderson Manual of Medical Oncology, 3e: Chapter 21. Pancreatic Cancer

Clinical Genomics: Practical Applications in Adult Patient Care: Chapter 45. Pancreatic Cancer

University of Chicago Medicine: POLO Trial for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer: A New Standard of Care

American Cancer Society: Key Statistics for Pancreatic Cancer

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Melanie Allison

Executive Editorial Specialist, McGraw-Hill Education

Melanie Allison is the Executive Editorial Specialist with McGraw-Hill Education. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from The Johns Hopkins University. She earned her Master’s of Science in Nursing degree (MSN), specializing as an acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP), from Vanderbilt University. Melanie has more than 20 years of experience as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in adult cardiology. She is an adjunct faculty member at a top school of nursing, where she has taught for more than 13 years.

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