Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Pancreatic cancer 'creates different tumours'

  • Comment

New pancreatic cancer research has outlined exactly why the disease is so deadly.

British-led scientists have discovered that the aggressive form of cancer splits into related tumours, but which are genetically different.

Patients with pancreatic cancer generally face a bleak outlook, with only a 2%-3% chance of survival more than five years after diagnosis - however there is brighter news from American experts.

They discovered that pancreatic cancer grows far more slowly than previously thought and that many tumours take nearly 20 years to start their deadly migration around the body, opening up a wide window for potentially effective treatment.

The British research focused on the forces of evolution at work in rapidly mutating pancreatic tumours. Scientists demonstrated that not only does the cancer change between patients, but it creates genetically different strains at each new tumour site within a single person.

Effectively, 10 different sites of a spreading “metastatic” cancer are 10 different but related tumours.

Dr Peter Campbell, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, said: “We have always known that pancreatic cancer is a particularly aggressive disease. This study illustrates why it is so challenging. Each metastasis is its own tumour, each evolving, each striving for dominance, each adapting to life outside the pancreas.

“When we treat cancer that has spread through the body, we’re not just treating one tumour, we might be treating tens of genetically distinct tumours.”

Click here to read the studies

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.