HonorHealth researchers' new therapy changes NCCN guidelines for pancreatic cancer 

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based HonorHealth researchers developed a novel drug combination therapy for pancreatic cancer patients that has become part of the new National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for the disease, the system shared with Becker's.

The trial featured 25 patients with previously untreated stage 4 pancreatic cancer who underwent a combination of cisplatin, nab-paclitaxel and gemcitabine. Patients were assessed every nine weeks to observe tumor responses using spiral computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. 

"What's even more significant about these results is how this has changed the protocols for treating pancreatic cancer in the United States," said Gayle Jameson, principal investigator, nurse practitioner and associate clinical investigator at the HonorHealth Research and Innovation Institute.

One of the patients who received the therapy was Michael Gordon, MD, the system's own medical director. Dr. Gordon underwent the treatment for early resectable pancreatic cancer.  

Dr. Gordon sat down with Becker's in an exclusive interview, alongside Ms. Jameson and Erkut Borazanci, MD, another investigator and deputy director of oncology at HonorHealth. 

Dr. Gordon said, as a patient, moving forward with the triplet treatment was the best option for him because it promised him "what we hoped was the best response rate." 

"We also internally had a very good handle on management, and in particular, management of potential risks and side effects," Dr. Gordon told Becker's. "And so at a personal level, it wasn't just getting the best possible treatment, it was being treated by the best possible people that allowed me to not only receive therapy but continue to work full time while I was getting treated."

Researchers saw an overall response rate of 71 percent in the trial patients, including some with a complete response. "This resulted in patients having a median overall survival of over 16 months with some individuals living for years with stage IV pancreatic cancer," Dr. Borazanci said. 

"I think the age of patients newly diagnosed with pancreas cancer, in any stage, hearing, 'This is a lethal death sentence and there's nothing we can do,' we're beyond that now," Ms. Jameson told Becker's. "For the majority of patients, this is a treatable controllable disease."

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