Higher Dose Radiation Can Increase Pancreatic Cancer Survival: Study

Posted by Hollie Williams on June 22nd, 2017

A positive diagnosis of pancreatic cancer tends to present with a prognosis that is rather bleak. With a five-year survival rate that is less than 10 percent, this form of cancer is considered one of the deadliest. Challenges related to diagnosing this condition in its earliest, most treatable phases, and difficulty in providing effective treatments combine to make average post-diagnosis life expectancy a mere matter of months. New research, however, is casting light on a way that may help extend life in some patients. The use of higher doses of radiation during radiotherapy has been shown to more than double survival in some patients.

The study in question involved the use of higher doses of chemoradiation during treatments. Researchers found that patients who received the lowest recommended dose of <45 Gy had an overall survival rate of about 13 months after treatment. For those given a higher dose of 55, the survival time more than doubled to 28 months.

While previous studies have concluded there was no real benefit gained from treating pancreatic cancer patients with radiotherapy, researchers say the new data shows that may not be entirely accurate. Previous studies relied on lower doses that tumors simply may not have responded to. The study that concludes a higher dose may produce more satisfactory results involved more than 500 patients with early stage pancreatic cancer. All patients also underwent surgical resection in addition to radiotherapy. Nearly 150 patients also received adjuvant chemotherapy.

Although further research is needed to confirm the findings, the study’s results are quite encouraging. It may very well be that previous use of radiotherapy was largely ineffective because the dosing was too low to have an impact on pancreatic tumors. Researchers are also interested in conducting a similar study with patients with more advanced cases to see if survival may be extended in these cases.

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 53,000 people across the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the coming year. An estimated 43,000 Americans will die from this cause. With no early screening tool readily available, this form of cancer is often only detected after it reaches more advanced stages. This is complicated further by the fact that early stage pancreatic cancer may present with no symptoms.

People who are concerned about pancreatic cancer are strongly urged to speak with their healthcare providers. Risk factors for this disease include new-onset diabetes, family history, chronic pancreatitis and obesity, among others.

About Author

The Sandler-Kenner Foundation was started by Gregory A. Echt, M.D. and his wife, Susan T. Echt, after they lost two of their dear friends, Michael and Peter, to premature deaths from pancreatic cancer.

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Hollie Williams

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Hollie Williams
Joined: September 18th, 2015
Articles Posted: 25

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