A small study conducted on adults with common pancreatic cancer reveals that high-risk breast cancer patients with BRCA1 AND BRCA2 gene mutations have the lowest rates of survival compared to those without the mutations. The same study also discovered that the BRCA! and BRCA2 patients would survive better with platinum-based chemotherapy than those who used other kinds of drugs.

The research findings highlighted the potential for harmonizing targeted therapies to groups of patients with pancreatic cancer based on their genetic makeup.

The survival rates and therapies for patients who have pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC) are very poor at the moment, and such a finding that tailors better treatment for some of the patients is received with enthusiasm. Surgical removal of the tumor is currently the standard care for PDAC, but only a fraction of patients are eligible for the operation since most of the cancers don’t show symptoms and are not diagnosed until they have already metastasized.

During the study:

  • Noncancerous tissue from 658 patients was analyzed. The patients had sporadic PDAC and had undergone operation between the year 2000 and 2015. Out of the 658, twenty-two of them (3%) had the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations in their DNA. The patients were matched by age and structural tumor locations to 105 of the other patients who had no mutations. The mid-range age was 61 years for both groups, and 62 (49%) of them were male.
  • Every patient in the control and mutation groups underwent a CT scan every four to six months during the first two years following the removal of the tumor, and yearly after the removal. The overall survival time from diagnosis to death was calculated.
  • The disease-free survival was also calculated from the time of surgery to the date of recurrence or stopped at the last follow-up date.
  • The pancreatic cancer patients who had the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations had an overall worse survival average of 20.2 months vs. 27.8 months, and a disease-free survival averaging 8.4 months versus 16.7 months than the patients without the mutations.
  • The patients who underwent platinum-based chemotherapy after surgery had better survival rates overall than those who took other treatment options or received no chemotherapy at all.
  • Out of the 22 patients with BRCA 1 and 2 mutations, 10 went through platinum-based chemotherapy, eight received alternative chemotherapy, and four did not receive any chemotherapy after surgery. Their survival rates averaged 31 months, 17.8 months and 9.3 months respectively.

Researchers compliment the findings, which they view as a step forward in precision medicine techniques that will match patients to better treatment options. They’re looking forward to find ways of sequencing tissue from pancreatic cancer patients to help in defining the biological patterns and other patterns that will help in improving the treatment decisions. This will go a long way in reducing the soaring mortality rates of pancreatic cancer.