Survival of Pancreatic Cancer Patients is Doubled Through Nano-knife Ablation

Dr. Robert C. G. Martin II, MD, PhD., Director of Surgical Oncology at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, and colleagues reported that the median survival of pancreatic cancer patients is doubled through nano-knife ablation. The research team explained that through proper and accurate usage of nano-knife ablation, the median overall survival is approximately 2 years in patients with advanced-stage pancreatic cancer. They added that with this study, nano-knife ablation is now another treatment option for patients with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Previously, the treatment options were a combination of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy or chemotherapy alone.

This nano-knife ablation destroys cell membranes of diseased tissues and leaves the healthy tissues through the delivery of direct current microsecond pulses. The 6 surgical centers involved in this study include the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Atlanta, the Swedish Medical Center in Denver, the University of Louisville, the Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and the Cleveland Clinic. This study was conducted on 200 patients diagnosed with advanced-stage pancreatic cancer. They were given chemoradiation, chemotherapy, or both as suggested by the institution protocol. After one month of treatment, these patients were staged again with serum tumor markers and a triple-phase CT scan. Nano-knife ablation was done in selected patients. Selection criteria include assessment of patient’s pre-resection margin during operation, patient’s comorbidities, and patient’s previous therapy.

Sixty-three percent of patients who received nano-knife ablation alone had tumors in the pancreatic head while 75% of patients who received both nano-knife ablation and resection had tumors in the pancreatic neck or body. Patients who received both nano-knife ablation and resection had a median overall survival of 23 months while patients who received nano-knife ablation alone had a median overall survival of 18 months. The most common unwanted side effects were gastrointestinal complaints. Dr. Jeffrey A. Drebin, MD, PhD, from the Department of Surgery, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Pennsylvania, congratulates the research team for studying the nano-knife ablation technique as an option for pancreatic cancer treatment. He felt that the research team has achieved excellent results through this study. Dr. Keith D. Lillemoe, MD, from the Department of Surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and Editor-in-Chief of Annals of Surgery, commented that these study results requires more confirmation. A study comparing radiation therapy, nano-knife ablation, and chemotherapy with radiotherapy and chemotherapy is needed to further confirm the findings of this study.

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