According to the National Cancer Institute, although pancreatic cancer is rare—with approximately 45,000 cases diagnosed each year in the United States—it is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in this country. At diagnosis, most patients with pancreatic cancer have advanced disease that has spread, or metastasized, to other parts of the body. Only 2 percent of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer are still alive 5 years after diagnosis.
A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, co-authored by Dr. Mansoor Saleh, reported that in an international randomized phase III trial, patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer who were treated with a combination of albumin-bound paclitaxel (nab-paclitaxel [Abraxane®]) and gemcitabine (Gemzar®) lived longer than patients who were treated with gemcitabine alone. Patients who received both drugs also lived longer without their disease getting worse (progression-free survival). Patients who received the drug combination had a median overall survival of 8.5 months, compared with 6.7 months for patients treated with gemcitabine alone. This difference in overall survival was statistically significant.
“Metastatic pancreatic cancer remains a very difficult malignancy to treat and until now progress had been slow. But that has changed dramatically since the recent paper in the NEJM which demonstrated improvement in overall survival as well as survival at 1 and 2yrs when patients were treated with the combination of Abraxane and gemcitibine. The combination was superior to the use of Gemcitibin alone which used to be the standard of care until now. Thanks to this study, patients have a new treatment option and future studies will use this combination as the gold standard.”
Dr. Mansoor Saleh, Director of Research with Georgia Cancer Specialists affiliated with Northside Hospital Cancer Institute (www.gacancer.com). He is located at the Northside office (ph 404-256-4777). Georgia Cancer Specialists is a top 10 privately owned practice and is a national leader in advanced cancer treatment and research. Its physicians and staff offer many clinical trials and state of the art personalized care to each individual patient.