The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center

Advances and Discoveries Made at Johns Hopkins


Younger Patients with Pancreatic Cancer
Most pancreatic cancers arise in elderly patients. Dr. He and colleagues in the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center recently asked the question- "how do younger patients do after surgery?" Dr. he and colleagues report the results on 75 patients with pancreatic cancer who were ≤45 years old and who underwent surgery to have their tumor removed. They found, perhaps not surprisingly, that younger patients had fewer complications and lived longer after surgery than did older patients.

Reference:
He J, Edil GH, Cameron JL, Schulick RD, Hruban RH, Herman JM, Zheng L, Iacobuzio-Donahue C, Ahuja N, Pawlik TM, Wolfgang CL. Young patients undergoing resection of pancreatic cancer fare better than their older counterparts. J Gastrointest Surg. 17:339-44, 2012


Familial Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer runs in some families. Inherited gene mutations in specific genes (such as BRCA2 and p16/CDKN2A) explain some families. In other families the gene responsible for familial pancreatic cancer is not known. Dr. N. Roberts and colleagues studied a number of families in which multiple family members had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In several of these families they found that inherited (germline) mutations in a gene called ATM could explain the aggregation of pancreatic cancer in the family. What does it mean for me? This finding suggests that individuals with a strong family history may benefit from genetic testing for an inherited mutation in the ATM gene.

Reference:
Roberts NJ, Jiao Y, Yu J, Kopelovich L, Petersen GM, Bondy ML, Gallinger S, Schwartz AG, Syngal S, Cote ML, Axilbund J, Schulick R, Ali SZ, Eshleman JR, Velculescu VE, Goggins M, Vogelstein B, Papadopoulos N, Hruban RH, Kinzler KW, Klein AP. ATM mutations in patients with hereditary pancreatic cancer. Cancer Discov. 2:41-6, 2012.


Screening for Pancreatic Cancer
Early detection offers one of the best hopes for curing tumors of the pancreas. In a multi-center collaborative effort, Dr. M. canto and colleagues screened 225 asymptomatic high-risk (carriers of a gene known to predispose to pancreatic cancer or a strong family history of pancreatic cancer)adults using computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS). Remarkably 82 intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms and three pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors were detected. This study helps establish that screening asymptomatic individuals is possible. It has yet, however, been shown that such screening will save lives. Further, much larger, studies are needed.

Reference:
Canto MI, Hruban RH, Fishman EK, Kamel IR, Schulick R, Zhang Z, Topazian M, Takahashi N, Fletcher J, Petersen G, Klein AP, Axilbund J, Griffin C, Syngal S, Saltzman JR, Mortele KJ, Lee J, Tamm E, Vikram R, Bhosale P, Margolis D, Farrell J, Goggins M. Frequent detection of pancreatic lesions in asymptomatic high-risk individuals. Gastroenterology. 142:796-804, 2012.