Oncology Nurse Uses Retirement to Help Patients and Healthcare Professionals Understand Pancreatic Cancer Biomarker Testing Results
In June 2021, I was at a crossroads in my career. I had been an oncology nurse practitioner for the past 14 years, and it was time to decide if I should retire as a provider. Yet I felt like I still had more to do and more patients to help. I was determined to make a difference for patients with cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Side Effects, and Survivorship Considerations
Pancreatic cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the United States, accounting for 3% of all cancers but causing 7% of cancer-related deaths, which equates to about 57,500 diagnoses and 47,050 deaths each year. The average person’s risk for pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 64.
The Case of the Pancreatic Phenomenon
Ronnie, a 68-year-old patient with stage IV pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, recently started palliative FOLFIRINOX chemotherapy, a regimen consisting of 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin, every two weeks. During his toxicity evaluation, prior to starting his second cycle, he describes a few concerning symptoms that have been ongoing for several weeks, including unintentional weight loss of 15 kg over the last two months, significant bloating after meals, and frequent flatulence with oily stools that are difficult to flush.
Drug Combo May Be Effective for BRCA-Mutated Pancreatic Cancer
More than 65% of patients with germline BRCA/PALB2-mutated pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma responded to treatment with combination cisplatin and gemcitabine, according to results of a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Two- and three-year survival rates reached 31% and 18%, respectively.
Cancer Death Rates See Largest-Ever Single-Year Drop
Overall U.S. cancer mortality fell 2.2% from 2016 to 2017, the largest reduction for a single year, according to the American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Statistics, 2020,” published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Small Study Shows T-Cell Activity in Pancreatic Cancer
When treated with their own nonengineered T cells plus chemotherapy, six of seven patients with inoperable or metastatic pancreatic cancer showed objective responses or stable disease, according to the results of a study reported at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Immune Cell Therapies for Cancer conference in July 2019.
What Is Metformin’s Impact on Pancreatic Cancer Risk?
Metformin is one of the oldest and most reliable pharmacologic treatments for type-2 diabetes and had, in the past, been suggested as a potential pancreatic cancer risk reducer in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Although more recent versions of the guidelines have removed that language, our team was curious about the possible link between metformin and pancreatic cancer risk.
Evidence-Based Practice Helps Standardize Care After Pancreatic Cancer Surgery
For many patients with cancer, surgery is an integral part of the treatment regimen and offers a chance for a cure. This is especially true for patients with pancreatic cancer, where surgery is currently the only potential cure for the disease and a predictor of long-term survival.
An Overview of Colorectal and Pancreatic Cancers
Colorectal cancer (CRC) represents 8% of all new cancer cases and 8.4% of all cancer deaths, with a five-year survival rate of 64.9% (between 2007–2013). Pancreatic cancer represents 3.2% of all new cancer cases and 7.2% of all cancer deaths, with a five-year survival rate of just 8.2% (between 2007–2013). ONS member Christine Guarnieri, MSN, RN-BC, OCN®, of Huntington Hospital in New York, discussed both of these cancers at the Oncology Nurse Advisor Navigation Summit.