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!
Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University
Direct conversion of non-neuronal cells into nerve cells
03.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Transportation and Logistics
16.07.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science