Discovery of biomarkers will aid pancreatic cancer patients

Cancer researchers at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research have discovered two ‘biomarkers’ which can indicate the likelihood of patient survival after pancreatic cancer surgery.

Lead investigator of the research, Professor Andrew Biankin, has acknowledged the significant financial contribution of ACRF to the work of his team for this and other cancer research at the Garvan. ACRF has awarded $6.1 million in grants since 2004 to the Garvan Institute.

Surgery to remove pancreatic cancer is a high-risk operation. Known as the Whipple’s procedure, it involves the removal of half of the pancreas which is wrapped around major blood vessels. Many cancer patients sadly die from surgical complications, while others will suffer from early cancer recurrence within 6 months.

But the surgery does significantly benefit many patients, and with the Garvan Institute’s new discovery, patients can now be identified as suitable or unsuitable for surgery.

The biomarkers – proteins S100A2 and S100A4 – indicate a post-operative survival average of less than one year when they are both present. Absence of both proteins however, results in survival of up to three years.

“This information will allow us to be more aggressive, even when a tumour is big, if it has a benign biology – that is, when neither biomarker is present. Conversely, if both biomarkers were present, you probably wouldn’t operate,” Professor Biankin said.

Please click through to the Garvan Institute’s website to read more.