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View comments Scientists have discovered pancreatic cancer, illustrated, is in fact four separate diseases, raising hopes of new treatments +3 Scientists have discovered pancreatic cancer, illustrated, is in fact four separate diseases, raising hopes of new treatments Pancreatic cancer has long been thought to be a solitary - yet deadly - disease. But a new study suggests that assumption is wrong. Instead, scientists have discovered that pancreatic cancer is in fact four separate diseases. And, each disease has different genetic triggers and survival rates, they said. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of the disease - with a five-year survival rate of just five per cent, and a 10-year survival rate of just one per cent. It has famously claimed the lives of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs and actor Alan Rickman. This discovery is a breakthrough in the quest to effectively treat the disease, scientists claimed, raising hopes of new, targeted therapies. Study author Professor Sean Grimmond, of University of Melbourne, said: 'Knowing which sub-type a patient has would allow a doctor to provide a more accurate prognosis and treatment recommendations.' Nearly 8,800 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year - and only 20 per cent survive more than a year after being diagnosed. And in the US, 53,070 adults are diagnosed each year - with only 29 per cent surviving more than a year, according to the American Cancer Society. Professor Grimmond said there is an urgent need for more knowledge about the genetic causes for the cancer. To arrive at their findings, the team of scientists analyzed 456 pancreatic tumors. RELATED ARTICLES Previous 1 Next
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Zika outbreak will 'get WORSE before it gets better', World... SHARE THIS ARTICLE Share 13 shares They were hoping to figure out what processes are damaged when normal pancreatic tissues are transformed into aggressive cancers. Professor Grimmond said: 'We identified 32 genes from 10 genetic pathways that are consistently mutated in pancreatic tumors. 'But further analysis of gene activity revealed four distinct sub-types of tumors. 'This study demonstrates that pancreatic cancer is better considered as four separate diseases, with different survival rates, treatments and underlying genetics.' The four sub-types are: squamous, pancreatic progenitor, immunogenic and ADEX, he revealed. His team also discovered 10 genetic pathways that transform normal pancreatic tissue into cancerous tumors. Some of those processes relate to bladder and lung cancers. That finding opens the possibility of using treatments for these cancers to also treat pancreatic cancer.
+3 Pancreatic cancer is known to be one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Its current survival rate is only five per cent after five years,a and one per cent after 10 years. The disease recently claimed the life of actor Alan Rickman (pictured left), and Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs (right) in 2011 Professor Grimmond noted that there are already cancer drugs available or in development that could target parts of the 'damaged machinery' that leads to pancreatic cancer. For instance, some strains of the disease are associated with mutations that are normally linked to colon cancer or leukemia, which experimental drugs are being used to treat. Study co-author Dr Peter Bailey said: 'The standard of care for pancreatic cancer really hasn't changed in the last 20 years. If we can predict more accurately which treatment would be most effective for each patient, we can ensure patients have the best chance of living for as long as possible, as well as possible Leanne Reynolds, of the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK 'There are a number of different chemotherapeutic options but in general it's not very selective - it's like hitting the disease with a mallet with your eyes closed.' The results of the study are 'incredibly exciting,' according to the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK. Leanne Reynolds, head of research for the charity, said the findings meant that in the future 'the right patients can be given the right treatment at the right time'. Ms Reynolds said: 'This is crucial for people with pancreatic cancer, because the disease is difficult to diagnose, is often diagnosed terribly late, and just four per cent of people live for five years or more after diagnosis. 'If we can predict more accurately which treatment would be most effective for each patient, we can ensure patients have the best chance of living for as long as possible, as well as possible.' Dr Emma Smith, from Cancer Research UK, said: 'Identifying different types of pancreatic cancer and revealing the disease's complexity is an important step towards finding more effective treatments. 'This will help to ensure patients are given the therapies that are most likely to help. 'Improving survival for people with pancreatic cancer is one of our top priorities, and we urgently need more research like this if we're going to beat this disease in the future.'
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