Targeting Pancreatic Cancer

The FDA approved the use of the targeted therapeutic olaparib to treat certain pancreatic cancer patients whose disease has metastasized. 

aspirin pancreatic cancer risk
Image courtesy of National Cancer Institute.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a molecularly targeted therapeutic to treat certain patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

Each year, more than 55,000 people in the United States are diagnosed and nearly 46,000 die of pancreatic cancer. The five-year survival rate is just 9.3 percent, and the outlook is even worse for those diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer; just 2 percent are alive five or more years later.

On December 30, 2019, the FDA expanded the use of olaparib (Lynparza), which had previously been approved to treat breast cancer and ovarian cancer patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. The decision makes olaparib the first molecularly targeted therapeutic approved for treating pancreatic cancer.

The approval is for treating patients with an inherited, cancer-associated BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation who have pancreatic cancer that has metastasized even when the disease has not progressed during first-line treatment with a platinum-based chemotherapy regimen. At the same time, the FDA granted marketing authorization for a test to identify the BRCA mutations in pancreatic cancer patients.

Researchers estimate that 4 percent to 7 percent of all pancreatic cancers diagnosed in the United States are attributable to an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

Learn more about the approval of olaparib for pancreatic cancer patients on Cancer Research Catalyst, the official blog of the American Association for Cancer Research