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Promising new treatment for pancreatic cancer

West Virginia University is exploring potential new treatments for pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth deadliest cancer; it is often resistant to traditional chemotherapy drugs, and the tumours are often non-resectable. This means that a tumour cannot be removed surgically, often due to the fact that they are too close to blood vessels.

To help solve this problem, researchers have been looking into new ways to treat pancreatic cancer. A recent meta-analysis conducted by West Virginia University examined the effects of the chemotherapy drug Folfirinox, and whether this treatment is more effective than traditional chemotherapy drugs.

Researchers looked at 24 different studies that included a total of 313 pancreatic cancer patients. The patients’ survival rates were observed, as well as how often pancreatic tumours shrank to the point of being resectable, or removable by surgery. There was no control group, but the patients’ survival rates were compared to older statistics on pancreatic cancer patients where Folfirinox was not used.

The patients responded well to Folfirinox, as 67.8 percent of pancreatic tumours treated with the drug in the meta-analysis became completely resectable. Additionally, the overall survival time of patients taking Folfirinox was 22.2 months, compared with typical survival of approximately 12 months for those who did not take the drug.

This study suggests that Folfirinox could be an exciting breakthrough in treating pancreatic cancer and optimizing outcomes for patients. Further research is needed to determine whether this is the best drug available for pancreatic cancer, as well as compare it to other drugs to see if there are better alternatives. More research will also determine any detrimental effects on long-term health, and how those effects can be reduced.

Written by Avery Bisbee, BSc Candidate


Janssen, Q. P., Buettner, S., Suker, M., Beumer, B. R., Addeo, P., Bachellier, P., et al. Koerkamp, B. (2019). Neoadjuvant Folfirinox in Patients with Borderline Resectable Pancreatic Cancer: A systematic Review and Patient-Level Meta-Analysis. doi:10.1093/jnci/djz073/5488951

EurekAlert. (2019, June 14). WVU researcher studies new treatment for pancreatic cancer. Retrieved June 18, 2019, from



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