New Treatments In Development For Pancreatic Cancer: What You Should Know

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New Treatments In Development For Pancreatic Cancer: What You Should Know

14 June 2016
 Categories: , Blog

Pancreatic cancer has garnered a reputation in popular culture as being among the worst forms of cancer to be diagnosed with, and much of this has to do with the fact that it is often diagnosed in the late stages of the disease. Late stage diagnosis makes cancer difficult to treat and control. Another issue with pancreatic cancer is that treatment options have traditionally be quite limited (often to a single-drug chemotherapy option). However, in the field of oncology, many strides are being made to develop new treatments to treat pancreatic cancer. If you've been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you should get to know some of these newer treatment options that are coming available or are in clinical trials.

Bubbly or Fizzy Drinks to Improve Chemo Results

When a person is suffering from pancreatic cancer, particularly in the late stages, one of the reasons that chemotherapy is not as effective as when the cancer is in the early stages is a lack of oxygen in the blood. If there is not enough oxygen going to the tumor site, then the treatments cannot as easily penetrate the cells of the tumor, meaning the chemo medication and even radiation treatments cannot do their jobs.

Doctors have previously tried to oxygenate the tumors directly with pure oxygen treatments, but the side effects can be severe. As such, researchers are currently working on developing a bubbly or fizzy drink that patients could consume just like any other beverage. The drink would be bubbly because it is oxygenated, meaning it has little tiny bubbles of oxygen in it. The oxygen bubbles would travel from the stomach to the pancreas and oxygenate the area, making it more receptive to treatments.

The idea of a bubbly drink to assist with pancreatic cancer treatments is still in the earliest stages of development. Clinical trials have been performed on lab mice, but human trials are still forthcoming. 

Vitamin A Treatments Along With Chemotherapy

Another combination treatment for pancreatic cancer that is in development involves using vitamin A to help improve chemotherapy results. To date, the chemo drug most commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer is gemcitabine, as it has traditionally been the most effective.

However, as a rule, chemotherapy is not highly effective in advanced stages of pancreatic cancer. Researchers have begun trying to design treatments that both attack the cancer cells and target the surrounding healthy cells (known as stromal cells) to fortify them against the invasive cancer cells. In their research, doctors have found promising results in targeted high-dose vitamin A treatments for stromal cells along with chemotherapy infusions of gemcitabine to target the cancer itself.

In the UK, clinical trials in humans are in the earliest stages. The early findings in lab mice, though, were quite promising.

Now that you know more about the new treatments in development for pancreatic cancer, you can try to get in on a clinical trial and look for these treatments to be more widely available in the future. Talk to your oncologist for more information.