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HIFU Therapy for Cancer of the Pancreas

Chinese researchers have utilized an innovative modality for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer – High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (“HIFU”). This mode of therapy involves a manner of directing acoustic energy in a very directed fashion at the tumor itself.  HIFU is considered to be essentially a noninvasive procedure (or at least only minimally invasive).


In the journal Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Diseases International, Ye and colleagues have recently reported out a study of twenty-five patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma) that were treated with one or more sessions of HIFU.  They found that increased activity performance levels, and decreased pain levels – in 23 of the patients.  Also, overall CA19-9 marker levels were dramatically improved at one month post-procedure; and in five the CA19-9 levels became essentially undetectable.


Further and importantly, the median survival duration of the patients was ten months, with a rate of survival of 42% at one year (post-diagnosis). These results are somewhat remarkable for advanced pancreatic cancer and suggest the need for further confirmation and evaluation of this interesting technology.


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Dale O’Brien, MD



Dental disease and pancreatic cancer ?

Three separate studies this year suggest a modest but definite relationship between bacteria that are associated with periodontal / oral disease and pancreatic cancer.

The largest published research primarily by European (and some American) researchers reported out recently in the medical journal Gut in a matched control study – found particularly that those with a high level of antibodies against the periodontal bacteria “Porphyromonas gingivalis ATTC 53978” had twice the risk of pancreatic cancer as compared with controls.

In May of this year New York University scientists reported in the journal Carcinogenesis a relationship between the bacteria “Porphyromonas gingivalis” and digestive cancers including possibly for pancreatic cancer.

And UCLA researchers this April also in Gut found associations between variation in patient salivary bacteria and pancreatic cancer.

Not only might this help in further establishing causes for pancreatic cancer, but indicates that saliva may be a good target for trying to find biomarkers for screening and earlier diagnosis.


Dale O’Brien, MD

Low Adiponectin (fat cell) Hormone Associated with Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Harvard researchers led by Ying Bao, MD, ScD (Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School) published an article last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute with an intriguing finding.  In looking at 468 pancreatic cancer patients against 1080 matched control subjects, they found that the fat cell secreted hormone adiponectin (in serum) was lower in the patient group (6.2 vs. 6.8 µg/mL). This finding held for each of the five groups of patients that they studied.


Low adiponectin in blood being associated with higher risk – implies that abnormal glucose and/or fat metabolism may be a contributor to the growth of pancreatic cancer tissue.  The findings of this preliminary study lends itself better understanding the origins of pancreatic cancer, and further research for earlier diagnosis and even treatment.


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Related editorial


Dale O’Brien, MD

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