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Study: New immunotherapy shows promise in targeting pancreatic cancer tumors

Pancreatic cancer patients could have new hope with targeted immunotherapy.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest cancers to treat because it's often found very late and there aren't many therapies that work to help control the cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US and about 7% of all cancer deaths. 

In most cases pancreatic cancer doesn't respond to immunotherapy, which is a therapy that uses certain parts of a person's immune system to fight the cancer. But a new study is giving hope that a new type of immunotherapy may be able to shrink pancreatic cancer tumors.

Dr. Emerson Lim, an Oncologist with Spectrum Health, explains how this particular type of immunotherapy shrank a woman's pancreatic cancer tumors, "So this is particularly exciting. Because, you know, this is a form of immunotherapy using T cells to try to attack the pancreatic cancer cells that have a specific genetic mutation. You know, in this particular patient, it looks like it worked quite well. And, you know, she's six months out from the treatment and her tumors are still shrinking. So, it is it is an exciting finding."

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Lim says another larger study needs to be conducted to confirm if this type of immunotherapy can work with more pancreatic cancer patients. Dr. Lim says he would be interested in the possibility of bringing the study here to West Michigan.

13 On Your Side Health Reporter Valerie Lego 

Val has been reporting on health and medical stories in West Michigan for 16 years. She is an 18-time Emmy Award Winner. Her health reporting credentials include fellowships from the National Institutes. of Health, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Contact me: vallego@13OnYourSide.com

Follow me  Twitter @valerielego Facebook @valerielego Instagram @val_lego

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