Pancreatic Cancer News

Aspirin shown to cut pancreatic cancer risk in half

AspirinA new study adds to the evidence that low-dose aspirin, known to reduce the risk for heart disease, may also reduce the risk for pancreatic cancer.

Scientists at Yale University in America interviewed 362 patients newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 690 health controls at 30 hospitals in North America. They were asked if they had taken aspirin, and if so at what dose, and over what period they had taken it. Regular use of aspirin was defined as being taken at least once a week for three months.

Those taking a low dose (75mg to 325mg of aspirin) usually took it once a day to prevent cardiovascular disease. Those taking greater amounts (considered to be regular doses) usually took it to relieve pain. In the study, over half were men, half smoked, or used to smoke, and a fifth had diabetes. The researchers accounted for this plus age, race and other variables in their study. 

The results, published online in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention1 found that regular aspirin use lowered the risk for pancreatic cancer by 48 percent. They also found that the longer people take aspirin, the better the protection: those who had been taking it for more than 10 year had a reduced risk of nearly 60 percent.

Doctors urge caution about people taking aspirin to reduce their risk of developing pancreatic cancer unless they are in a high-risk group. This is because aspirin can cause complications such as bleeding and stomach ulcers in some people. People should not start taking aspirin without first consulting their own doctor.

Larger studies are needed to determine the benefits of taking aspirin to prevent pancreatic cancer including who should take it, how much should be taken and how long for, before it can be recommended for widespread use in preventing the disease.



  1. Streicher et al., (2014) Case–Control Study of Aspirin Use and Risk of Pancreatic Cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 23(7); 1–10 

Fifty Wakefield walkers take part in Three Peaks challenge in memory of Ian Brooke

collageA fifty-strong fundraising team from across Wakefield completed the 25 mile Three Peaks walk in aid of Pancreatic Cancer Action on 24th May. The walk was in memory of 44 year old Ian Brooke who died of pancreatic cancer in December only six weeks from diagnosis.

The challenge covers three of the highest peaks in the Yorkshire Dales – Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. These peaks form part of the Pennine range, and encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble, in the Yorkshire Dales National park.



Ian, a keen walker, had actually started planning this walk before he was diagnosed and had actually only managed to convince about ten people to come along.  When he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, his friends and family wanted to do the walk as planned and more people joined in.

One of the team said: “We all wanted to be involved to raise money in memory of Ian, who was a popular man who loved walking.  This is such a hard time for his family so we hope the support everyone is showing will offer some comfort to them over.

“We hope to raise a lot of money for this underfunded cancer to ensure that more people are diagnosed.”

The five-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer, the fifth deadliest cancer in the UK, is just 3%.  While survival rates of many cancers have improved significantly over 40 years, this shockingly low survival rate has not changed at all.

Pancreatic Cancer Action is committed working towards earlier diagnosis.  The charity is focussed on educating the public and medical community as well as funding research.  They also campaign for more funding from the government into research, which currently stands at less than one per cent of all cancer researching funding.

Ali Stunt, Founder of Pancreatic Cancer Action and a rare survivor of the illness, said: “We are delighted that so many people gave their time to support Pancreatic Cancer Action. Thank you to all of Ian’s friends and families for taking part in this challenging walk.

”As a charity, we rely on the generosity of the public to help us continue our vital work. Please back them in their fundraising efforts so that we can continue research into early diagnosis and raise awareness of pancreatic cancer.”

You can visit their page here:

Pancreatic cancer patients lose out as Abraxane is turned down by SMC

Pancreatic Cancer Action is extremely disappointed that the advanced pancreatic cancer drug, Abraxane, has not been approved for NHS patients by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

Ali Stunt, chief executive at Pancreatic Cancer Action said: “Abraxane is a vital treatment option because it can give patients and families valuable extra time, on average an additional 2.1 months survival but in some cases, to over two years.

“Pancreatic cancer has an appalling survival rate, particularly as it is regularly diagnosed very late on when the disease has spread to other parts of the body. In addition, significant underfunding for pancreatic cancer research has meant that there has been very little in the way of improvements in survival for these patients for decades.”

In England, Abraxane has been made available to NHS patients through the Cancer Drugs Fund until a final decision is made by NICE.

Mrs Stunt continued: “The negative advice by the SMC means that eligible patients in Scotland will be denied this clinically effective treatment on the NHS, which is putting Scottish patients at a disadvantage with their English counterparts.

“It should not be down to where you live as to whether you can be treated with Abraxane for advanced pancreatic cancer. Today’s decision by the SMC is a retrograde step which defies logic.”

“We hope that a future revised offer will change this outcome for patients who desperately need it.”

Circulating Pancreas Cells in blood may be early sign of cancer

pancreatic-cancer cellCancer cells appear in the bloodstream in the very early stages of pancreatic cancer and can be detected before cancer is diagnosed according to scientists at the University of Michigan (USA).

The researchers studied 51 patients using a microfluid device to capture circulating pancreas epithelial cells in 1/3 of patients with early pancreatic cysts or lesions but no clinical diagnosis of cancer. Three groups of patients were studied: those who were cancer free, those diagnosed with precancerous cystic lesions, and patients with pancreatic cancer. The researchers, led by Andrew Rhim, M.D., Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at University of Michigan Health System1, managed to capture circulating epithelial cells in 73% of patients with pancreatic cancer but none of the cancer free patients without lesions had these cells in their blood stream.

Previous studies have identified cancer cells in the bloodstream but these are usually detected when the tumour is already at a late stage in its development. There is a lot more work that needs to be done and the researchers are now looking to understand better the genetic signalling of these circulating pancreas cells from patients with precancerous cystic lesions which the scientists believe would contain many of the genetic anomalies seen in pancreatic cancer.

These findings indicate that  cancer cells are present in the bloodstream of patients before tumours are detected and have the potential to be used to identify those at risk of developing pancreatic cancer in the future.



  1. Rhim et al., 2014. Detection of Circulating Pancreas Epithelial Cells in Patients With Pancreatic Cystic Lesions. Gastroenterology vol 146 pp 647-651 

Pancreatic cancer death rates predicted to rise in 2014 across Europe

researchPancreatic cancer is the only cancer where deaths for both men and women are predicted to rise across Europe this year, researchers in Italy and Switzerland have warned.

Using population and death certificate data from stomach, colorectal, pancreas, lung, breast, prostate and leukaemia and total cancers from the World Health Organisation and Eurostat, the scientists, who published their findings in the Annals of Oncology1, predicted  1,323,600 deaths from cancer in the EU in 2014.

Comparing predicted cancer deaths for 2014 with figures for 2009, the researchers predicted that overall rates of cancer death will fall in 2014 for men by 7% and for women by 5%.

It has been predicted that death rates in women will fall by 9% for breast cancer, 7% for colorectal cancer but will increase by 8% for lung cancer. In men, lung cancer deaths are predicted to fall by 8%, colorectal by 4% and prostate by 10%.

Pancreatic cancer is the only cancer where increased death rates are predicted for both men and women. 

The researchers add that pancreatic cancer has been showing a small but steady increase in mortality rates since the beginning of this century. In 2014 they predict that 41,300 men and 41,000 women will die from pancreatic cancer –  giving an age standardised rate of eight and 5.6 deaths respectively per 100,000 of the population. Between 2000-2004, death rates from the disease were 7.6 per 100,000 men and five per 100,000 women.

These results are extremely important in showing that reducing cancer mortality can be achieved in some cancers where there has been significant investment in research which has provided new treatments and therapies. Priority now should be given to research in pancreatic cancer where we see an unfavourable trend in increased mortality rates, in order to reduce cancer mortality disparities between cancer types and between European countries.


  1.  ”European cancer mortality predictions for the year 2014″, by M. Malvezzi, P. Bertuccio, F. Levi, C. La Vecchia and E. Negri. Annals of Oncology. DOI: 10.1093/annonc/mdu138