London, 08 February, Haffingtonpost: It is one of the highly rated matter that breast cancer…
Pancreatic cancer is at least four separate diseases each with a different cause and needing a different treatment, scientists have discovered.
The researchers say the knowledge will lead to new drugs targeting the Achilles’ heel of each patients’ cancer and that they have already seen some “exceptional” results.
Cancer charities said the findings were “incredibly exciting”.
The analysis, published in the journal Nature, looked at 456 patients’ cancer.
Tumours are caused by mutations in DNA that make healthy tissue turn cancerous – but there is more than one way to make a cancer.
While all the pancreatic cancers looked similar, there were four classes of genetic error that led to tumour formation.
And these four cancers have been labelled:
aberrantly differentiated endocrine exocrine
One example of how different the cancers are is the average survival time from diagnosis with squamous-type cancers was just four months – roughly half that of the other types.
But crucially, the knowledge could lead to new treatments.
Dr Andrew Biankin, one of the researchers at the University of Glasgow, told the BBC News website: “This is the most comprehensive analysis of the blueprint of pancreatic cancer.
“So this knowledge reveals what makes these cancers tick and which ones may be vulnerable to particular treatments by defining the Achilles’ heel of every cancer.”
It would be a much needed breakthrough for a type of cancer stubbornly difficult to treat.
Most people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are told they have less than a year to live.
And just 1% of them are alive 10 years after being diagnosed – a survival rate unchanged for four decades.
Pancreatic cancerImage copyrightAndrew Biankin
Pancreatic cancer tissue
Meanwhile, dramatic improvements in breast, prostate and colon cancer care mean pancreatic tumours are predicted to kill more people than any other cancer, apart from lung, in some countries.