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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A New Pancreatic Cancer Treatment on the Horizon

Lynparza is the newest pancreatic cancer treatment to be approved for the fight!

Still in the early stages, but showing promise for those with terminal progression, Lynparza is a non-chemotherapy oral treatment developed by AstraZeneca and the Merck Research Lab and approved by the FDA for advanced pancreatic cancer patients.



Lynparza is limited in its treatment scope for pancreatic cancer, but is giving Hope to the many who may benefit from its novel approach.

"We are excited to have another treatment option available for pancreatic cancer patients.  While only approved for a small group, this treatment emphasizes the importance of treating patients based on their biology and their tumor's biology - the foundation of precision medicine." 
                                                             ~ the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Lynparza is a first-in-class PARP Inhibitor.  And like me, you may ask, What the heck is that??

Well, in plain-speak (and very general terms), PARP is an enzyme in our body, in our cells.

It stands for poly-ADP ribose polymerase. Right.  Let's just call it PARP.   Deal?!

So, PARP helps cells repair damaged DNA.  And in cancer cells, PARP helps the cancer repair DNA so it can keep growing and multiplying.

A PARP inhibitor is a substance or chemical that blocks the PARP enzyme so it can't repair the damaged DNA.  And if you happen to be a cancer cell and your PARP enzyme is turned off, then you can't repair damaged DNA and you die.

That's a Yay for cancer death!  So we like PARP Inhibitors!  Right?!  Well, yes... and no...

Remember, all our cells have the PARP enzyme.  So what happens when we take a PARP inhibitor?

Well, for starters it affects the fast growing cancer cells, no PARP enzyme for you... and that's good.  But then none of the other growth cells in our body can turn on their PARP enzyme and repair damaged DNA either... not so good.

These fast growing cells in our bodies include our hair follicles, our skin, the cells that line our digestive tract and our bone marrow.  And that's why patients on PARP inhibitors can experience:

- hair loss

- skin rashes

- nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

- low red blood cell and white blood cell counts.

While most experience just mild side effects, there are some who can experience life threatening bone marrow problems, like Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) or Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

Nothing about cancer treatment is easy or good...

Except that every new discovery brings us closer to the cure.  And that is the Prayer and Hope for every one of our cancer-fighting loved ones!

For more information on Lynparza and to see if it's a fit for your cancer treatment plan, be sure to talk to your oncology team.  As of now, the FDA has approved Lynparza for pancreatic cancer patients who have:

- Stage IV pancreatic adenocarcinoma (the most common form)

- Germline (inherited) mutations of BRCA (testing available through PanCan's Know Your Tumor profiling as well as through your oncology team.)

- Stable disease (no tumor progression) after treatment with a first-line platinum-based chemotherapy (like Gemzar)... According to AstraZeneca, Lynparza may be used as a maintenance treatment after your cancer has not progressed on at least 16 weeks of treatment with platinum-based chemotherpay.



Lynparza... another bit of Hope for the Journey!


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