Four genes linked to pancreatic cancer identified

Four genes linked to pancreatic cancer identified

Four genes linked to pancreatic cancer identified

Scientists have identified four main genes that can predict how long a patient may survive with pancreatic cancer.

The study, published in Jama Oncology, involved 356 patients who all had pancreatic adenocarcinoma that could be surgically removed.

In all cases after the tumours were removed, researchers extracted DNA from the cancerous tissue and nearby normal tissue and conducted next-generation DNA sequencing on the specimens.

Researchers from the University of Rochester in the US analysed the activity of the KRAS, CDKN2A, SMAD4, and TP53 genes.

The team found that patients who had three or four of the altered genes had worse disease-free survival - the time between surgery and when cancer returns - and overall survival - from surgery to death - compared to patients with a single or two altered genes.

"The research helps us to understand how the molecular features of pancreatic cancer impact prognosis on an individual level and gives us more facts to guide patients, and importantly, to design future research studies," said Aram Hezel from the University of Rochester.

Pancreatic cancer is aggressive and generally has poor survival odds.

Patients who can undergo surgery as part of treatment often survive longer and some patients fare best when they can receive chemotherapy prior to surgery, said Hazel.

"However, having customised, molecular information will provide an even greater understanding of how the disease is likely to progress in each patient," Hezel said.