Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis Through Examination of Scar Tissue

December 05, 2023

A recent study led by Stanford Medicine researchers reveals that the scar tissue surrounding a developing pancreatic tumor, known as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, provides valuable insights into the potential lifespan of individuals with these cancers. 

The study identifies distinctive architectural features and cellular organization within the scar tissue, enabling the classification of patients into two groups. Significantly, those in one group exhibited a median survival nearly two years longer than their counterparts. Given the relatively low five-year survival rate of 20% to 25% for this cancer post-surgery, this difference is noteworthy.

Remarkably, the research indicates that the patterns observed in a patient's scar tissue rank among the most predictive prognostic factors for this type of cancer, trailing only the tumor stage at diagnosis. This suggests a complex interaction between the scar tissue's cells and overall structure with the cancer cells, influencing either the promotion or suppression of their growth. 

The study implies that therapeutic interventions targeting not only the tumor but also the scar tissue could be a promising approach. Professor of surgery Michael Longaker, MD, emphasizes the potential of exploring new treatment avenues, considering the dual role that both the tumor and its surrounding scar tissue play in determining patient outcomes.