In a first-of-its-kind finding, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have discovered that exposure to the hepatitis B virus (HBV) may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
The study, published in the Oct. 1 edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also suggests that patients with this lethal form of cancer treated with chemotherapy may face danger of reactivation of their HBV.
Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in 37,000 people in the United States each year, and more than 34,000 people die of the disease annually, according to the American Cancer Society. It is often diagnosed in the late stages and is especially perplexing because few risk factors are known.
"If this study is validated, it will give us more information about the risk factors of pancreatic cancer and possibly even help prevent it in some cases," said lead author Manal Hassan, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology.
HBV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are major global health problems, affecting about 2 percent of the population worldwide. In the United States 1.25 million people have chronic HBV, while 3.2 million have chronic HCV. These systemic viruses can harm the body in a variety of ways, including traveling through the bloodstream and damaging tissues throughout the body.
The word "hepatitis" means "inflammation of the liver," and previous research has shown HBV and HCV are major causes of liver cancer. Little is known about their roles in other cancers. However, the proximity of the liver to the pancreas and the fact the pancreas and liver share common blood vessels and ducts make the pancreas a potential target for hepatitis viruses.
While this is the first study to examine whether exposure to HBV and HCV increases risk for pancreatic cancer, other research has indicated chronic HBV infection may impair pancreatic function and that HBV may replicate in the pancreas, Hassan said.
In this study, which began in 2000, 476 M. D. Anderson patients with early pancreatic cancer were identified. Additionally, 879 people without pancreatic cancer were matched with the patients by age, gender and race. All participants were interviewed for demographic and risk factors information.
Then researchers tested the blood of all participants for the presence of HCV and HBV antibodies, which indicate past exposure to HCV and HBV.
The prevalence of past exposure to HBV was significantly higher (7.6 percent) in people with pancreatic cancer than in healthy people (3.2 percent). However, exposure to HCV was not significantly different in the two groups.
In addition, the study confirmed previously reported risk associations of cigarette smoking, history of diabetes and a family history of pancreatic cancer.
People exposed to HBV may develop occult, or hidden, HBV infection. In these cases, the M. D. Anderson researchers say, there is a potential for reactivation of HBV during chemotherapy, the most common treatment for pancreatic cancer. Chemotherapy may suppress the immune system, leading to viral replication of the HBV, the researchers explained.
"If these results are validated, physicians might want to test pancreatic cancer patients for HBV before administering chemotherapy," said senior author James Abbruzzese, M.D., professor and chair of M. D. Anderson's Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and associate medical director of the Gastrointestinal Center. "Reactivation of HBV could potentially cause liver damage and even liver failure."
Researchers stress these early results need to be studied further and plan to collaborate with other institutions to compare results among other populations and people who are actually infected with the virus. If they are confirmed, these results may offer new insight into pancreatic cancer, possibly even preventing some cases in the future.
"We are working hard to try to understand the factors that are risks to developing pancreatic cancer, particularly modifiable risks," Abbruzzese said. "If these results are confirmed, people at risk might be able to help prevent pancreatic cancer by getting an HBV vaccine."
The study was funded by National Institutes of Health grants CA-106458 and CA-098380.
In addition to Hassan and Abbruzzese, other authors on the all-M. D. Anderson study include: Robert A. Wolff, M.D., professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology; Donghui Li,Ph.D., professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology; Adel S. El-Deeb, research assistant, Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology; Melissa L. Bondy, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Epidemiology; and Marta Davila, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.
About M. D. Anderson
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. M. D. Anderson is one of only 41 Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For four of the past six years, M. D. Anderson has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in "America's Best Hospitals," a survey published annually in U.S. News and World Report.
Laura Sussman | EurekAlert!
NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
High speed video recording precisely measures blood cell velocity
15.11.2017 | ITMO University
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses