Washington : A recent research has identified that pancreatic cancer is not one, but four diseases, each with different genetic triggers and survival rates, paving the way for more accurate diagnoses and treatments.
The University of Melbourne findings also include 10 genetic pathways at the core of transforming normal pancreatic tissue into cancerous tumours. Some of these processes are related to bladder and lung cancers, opening up the possibility of using treatments for these cancers to also treat pancreatic cancer.
Over seven years, scientists analysed the genomes of 456 pancreatic tumours to determine the core processes that are damaged when normal pancreatic tissues change into aggressive cancers.
Researcher Sean Grimmond said there was an urgent need for more knowledge about the genetic causes of pancreatic cancer, with most patients only living a few months after diagnosis and the condition predicted to become the second most common cancer in Western countries within a decade.
Grimmond said that they identified 32 genes from 10 genetic pathways that are consistently mutated in pancreatic tumours, but further analysis of gene activity revealed four distinct subtypes of tumours. This study demonstrates that pancreatic cancer is better considered as four separate diseases, with different survival rates, treatments and underlying genetics.
He added that knowing which subtype a patient has would allow a doctor to provide a more accurate prognosis and treatment recommendations.
Importantly Grimmond said there are already cancer drugs, and drugs in development, that can potentially target the parts of the ‘damaged machinery’ driving pancreatic cancers to start.
The study is published today in the international journal Nature. (ANI)