Pancreatic cancer is a serious condition that only few people manage to survive. The American Cancer Society estimated that about 53,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease this year alone. Some 41,000 Americans will succumb to pancreatic cancer.
This particular form of cancer has witnessed very few breakthroughs in treatment or detection over the past few decades. While survival rates for breast, prostate and even some forms of lung cancer have improved dramatically in recent years, the same cannot be said for pancreatic cancer.
Researchers, however, believe they may have found a way to stop metastasis in its tracks. This could potentially hold the door open for more effective treatments while lowering the mortality risk associated with this form of cancer. At present, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is less than 10 percent.
The breakthrough that has researchers so excited involves a mechanism to control cholesterol metabolism in pancreatic cancer cells. When this is achieved, researchers have found that pancreatic cancer is much less like to spread to other organs. The research to date has focused on one of the more aggressive types of the disease, which is even more encouraging.
The study in question involved the use of drugs that have been previously approved for treatment of atherosclerosis. By reducing the accumulation of cholesteryl ester, the drugs have shown themselves to be useful in preventing the spread of pancreatic cancer. So far, research has centered on mice without the benefit of human trials. The findings, however, showed that mice treated with the drugs were much less likely to witness the development of pancreatic cancer lesions in their livers.
While much study remains to be performed to see if cholesterol control can stop aggressive pancreatic cancer from spreading, the latest research is a major step in the right direction. Pancreatic cancer is among the most difficult forms to detect. This, in turn, makes it very difficult for early interventions to take place. Whereas cancers, such as breast and prostate, have early screening protocols, the same simply isn’t so for pancreatic cancer. Gaining an edge in treatment may one day delver hope to those diagnosed with the disease.
People who are concerned about the potential of pancreatic cancer are urged to discuss the condition with their healthcare providers. This form of cancer tends to present with few or rather vague symptoms at its onset. Risk factors include diabetes, chronic pancreatitis and family history, among others.