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Ask Dr. Nandi: Drug trio improves odds against advanced pancreatic cancer

Posted at 6:19 PM, Oct 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 18:19:59-04

(WXYZ) — Pancreatic cancer is often a deadly disease but a new study has found that a three-drug chemo cocktail can improve survivorship.

I know first-hand how deadly pancreatic cancer is, I see this in my practice more often than I’d like.

Unfortunately, a number of my patients have died from it. It’s also taken the lives of Detroit’s beloved Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin and more recently, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

Now looking at this new research, this three-drug cocktail seems to offer hope.

Often when patients are treated, the current standard-of-care uses two drugs for chemotherapy, nab-paclitaxel and gemcitabine. But in this study, the researchers added a third drug called cisplatin to this mix. And they saw tumors in patients shrink.

This is likely due to the platinum-based cisplatin as lab tests have shown it can inhibit pancreatic cancer cells from repairing DNA, basically causing them to self-destruct.

Well, researchers reported that the tumors shrank considerably for about 71 percent of the patients that were treated. Now looking at how this impacts survivorship, a year after the treatment, 64 percent of the patients were still alive. And at the two-year mark, 40 percent were still alive.

Now, those are pretty good numbers even if they don’t sound all that great. Because I can tell you, that the survival rate is pretty bad. Typically only about 26 percent of people who have advanced pancreatic cancer are still alive one year later.

The study was small, with only 25 patients. So there needs to be more research to confirm that these survivorship percentages hold true. And also to track side effects, which in this study were found to be tolerable and manageable.

But this is not a breakthrough treatment and it’s certainly not a cure. But it does offer hope that in the future, those diagnosed with the disease, may be able to longer than what we typically see now.

An all-new Dr. Nandi Show! Are the bugs in your gut wreaking havoc on your weight? Dr. Partha Nandi, MD is joined by world expert and fellow gastroenterologist Dr. William Chey who explains exactly what these microbes are and how they can impact not just your waistline but your health too. Celebrity Nutritionist JJ Virgin shares her 7 favorite foods to support gut health and a slimmer you. Also, a woman looking for answers - after facing cancer twice she worked hard to slim down but still struggles with weight fluctuations. Plus, dopamine-down regulation explained and a whole lot more from brain scientist Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson. Tune in this Sunday, October 6th at 1:30 AM*please note this is technically Monday as it’s after midnight