FORCE’s eXamining the Relevance of Articles for You: Pancreatic Cancer (XRAY: PC) looks behind the cancer headlines to bring you reliable information about pancreatic cancer research-related news and information. XRAY: PC reviews pancreatic cancer research, provides plain-language and in-depth summaries, links to clinical trials, summarizes current guidelines and rates how well the media covered each topic. XRAY: PC was made possible by the generous support of Celgene.
Most relevant for: People in treatment for cancer, or people scheduled for surgery
The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to many changes in our communities. In this XRAY review we focus on the intersection between COVID-19 and cancer: who may be immunosuppressed, coping with changes in surveillance or treatment, and evaluating and dealing with media. (4/13/20)
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Most relevant for: People with Lynch syndrome mutations
Lynch syndrome is the most common inherited cause of cancer affecting about 1 in 300 people. People with Lynch syndrome have an increased risk of colorectal endometrial and other cancers. A large study followed people with mutations in the Lynch syndrome genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2 to determine the risk of other types of cancer. (2/21/20)
Most relevant for: People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
An update on hereditary pancreatic cancer presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting covered genes and lifetime risk. The update emphasized that all pancreatic cancer patients should be offered genetic counseling and testing. Genetic test results may impact treatment, screening for other cancers and risk to family members. (11/26/19)
Most relevant for: People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who have a BRCA mutation
Note: On 12/27/19, the FDA approved olaparib for treatment of pancreatic cancer in people with a BRCA mutation based on the results of the POLO study.
The POLO clinical trial looks at whether the PARP inhibitor olaparib improves outcomes for those with metastatic pancreatic cancer after platinum-based chemotherapy. (7/3/19) Based on these results
Most relevant for: People diagnosed with cancer
The Jerusalem Post published an article titled, “A cure for cancer? Israeli scientists may have found one.” The story profiled a small Israeli company called Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies that has been working on developing new cancer treatments since 2000. The article relied almost entirely on an interview with the company’s chairperson of the board who made a series of unsubstantiated claims that included that, in a year’s time, the company will offer a complete cure for cancer. (2/12/19)
Most relevant for: People with an inherited mutation linked to cancer
In her essay in The Washington Post, Dr. Pamela Munster recounts her family's history with cancer associated with a mutation in the BRCA2 gene. She details her father's extraordinary journey with pancreatic cancer, one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers. (11/27/18)
Most relevant for: Women over age 30
It is well documented that many BRCA mutation carriers are missed using current family history-based screening approaches. As a result, experts are beginning to call for population-based BRCA genetic testing—an organized effort to screen all women like we do for breast and cervical cancer. A recent study looked at whether a population-based genetic testing approach would better identify mutation carriers compared with current practice. (11/17/18)
Most relevant for: People who are a member of a racial or ethnic minority group
This article by journalists Caroline Chen and Riley Wong looks at racial disparities between participation in clinical trials and the population of people with cancer. (11/6/18)
Most relevant for: People who have a Variant of Uncertain Significance in a gene associated with cancer risk.
Ever since BRCA1 was discovered, researchers have been trying to understand which of the thousands of possible DNA changes in this gene increase cancer risk and which are harmless changes. A new study in Nature reports how a cutting-edge technology called “genome editing” may be used to classify changes—known as variants of uncertain significance-in BRCA1 as harmful or harmless. Once validated, this same technology may be used to classify variants in other genes. (9/29/18)
Most relevant for: Women with an MSH6 or PMS2 mutation
Some women with mutations in MSH6 and PMS2, two Lynch syndrome genes, may have a modest (2 to 3-fold) increased risk for breast cancer. (6/14/18 updated 09/25/19)
Most relevant for: People who are considering or have had direct-to-consumer testing through 23andMe
Genetic testing for health conditions (such as risk for cancer) typically requires a prescription from a doctor. Until recently, direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing has focused on tests to learn your ancestry and find of unknown branches of family trees. A laboratory called 23andMe that provides direct-to-consumer genetic testing has been given FDA approval to report results for 3 mutations found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The FDA statement provides details about this approval and warns people about the limitations of the 23andMe test. (03/19/18)
Most relevant for: People referred to a genetic counselor or those considering genetic testing
Results presented at the 2017 American Psychological Association’s annual meeting showed genetic counseling by telephone is as “safe and effective” in long-term psychological and social outcomes compared to traditional in-person counseling for women at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. This presentation is an update on research published in 2014. (11/29/17)
Most relevant for: People diagnosed with or concerned about their risk for cancer
Maggie Fox (NBC News) writes about a new FDA report that warns of 14 "fraudulent” cancer products claiming to either cure or treat cancer (1). The companies that sell these products claim that many of them also prevent cancer, but are they safe or effective? (6/26/17)
Most relevant for: Patient undergoing chemotherapy
Hair loss is one of the most recognized and distressing side effects of some chemotherapies. Two studies looked at the use of scalp cooling therapy to help reduce hair loss after chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer. (5/15/17)
Update: Based on data from clinical trials, the FDA approved Dignicap scalp cooling device for treatment in patients diagnosed with solid tumors who are receiving chemotherapy.
Most relevant for: People diagnosed with advanced cancer
Jessica Wapner's Scientific American article explores the difficulties of making the vast amount of information acquired from tumor gene tests useful to patients and physicians. (9/20/16). Update: THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN UPDATED. In late 2017, the FDA approved two separate tumor profiling tests to help guide treatment choices. The FoundationOne CDx (F1CDx) genomic test has been approved to test for 15 different targeted therapies used to treat five types of cancer, including ovarian, colorectal, lung, breast and melanoma. The FDA also approved the MSK-IMPACT and developed for use by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) to scan tumor samples for 468 different cancer-associated mutations or alterations.
Most relevant for: People diagnosed with cancer
Cancer-related financial burden can keep survivors from getting the care that they need, yet how this burden affects mental and physical health is still unknown. A study found that almost one-third of cancer survivors report having financial burden; those most likely to be affected were under age 65, female, members of racial or ethnic minority groups, and people who lack access to adequate insurance. (5/17/16)