Treatment for pancreatic cancer and the intestinal microbiome
On the occasion of World Pancreatic Cancer Day, the European scientific community focuses its research on the intestinal microbiome to discover effective treatments for such a severe disease.
Pancreatic cancer - also known as the "silent killer" - has the worst prognosis of all cancers in Europe and it is responsible for more than 95.000 deaths per year. The average survival time after diagnosis is only 4.6 months.
The reason is that its symptoms are slow to manifest, making it difficult to diagnose the disease in time so that the life-saving surgical removal of the tumor can be done.
Cancer with a poor prognosis
Mortality from pancreatic cancer in Europe is presented increased by 5% between 1990-2016, according to a report by the United European Gastroenterology (UEG), which was published on the occasion of World Pancreatic Cancer Day (November 15).
This increase is the largest among the five most deadly cancers. The other four types constitute cancers of the lung, colon, breast, and prostate, which, however, show a gradual decrease in mortality after 1990.
In contrast, pancreatic cancer deaths as a percentage of Europe's population continue to rise. As a result, this cancer has now surpassed breast cancer, taking the third leading cause of cancer death in the European Union.
Despite increased mortality and low patient survival rates, pancreatic cancer, according to the UEG, receives less than 2% of total funding for anti-cancer research in Europe, a rate that is considered completely inadequate.
The research focuses on the microbiome
Current research for the treatment of pancreatic cancer has focused on the role of the intestinal microbiome, as the population of microorganisms in a pancreatic tumor has been found to be about 1.000 times larger than in a healthy pancreas. Studies have shown that the removal of bacteria from the gut and pancreas can slow the growth of cancer cells and "reprograms" the cells of a patient's immune system in order to defend themselves more effectively against cancer cells.
Scientists hope that by altering the gut microbiome, they will improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy or immunotherapy, slowing down metastases and ultimately "slowing down" the progression of the disease.
What they believe is that the intestinal microbiome and its relationship to the pancreas ushered in a whole new era of research as it paved the way for individualized and improved therapies against pancreatic cancer.
At Diagnostiki Athinon, having understood the value of prevention through Functional Medicine, we offer a group of specialized laboratory tests that analyze the intestinal microbiome. Among them is pancreatic elastase, a non-invasive marker that monitors the pancreas. Book your appointment today!