«We have succeeded in providing another therapeutic option to patients with pancreatic cancer»

Teresa Macarulla


    Every year, some 8,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed in Spain. It is one of the most lethal tumours and among those in which least progress has been made. This is because it is generally detected when already in advanced stages, in addition to being highly complex biologically and responding poorly to chemotherapy. Moreover, in recent years we have noted increased incidence in young people, and mortality due to this cancer is rising to the point where calculations place it among the leading causes of death from tumours.

    Despite research efforts, there has been almost no progress. In 2019, all studies of pancreatic cancer produced negative results, with the exception of POLO, in which the team I lead played an active part. In this study, patients were identified who had a rare mutation only present in 7 % of these pancreatic tumours, specifically, in the BRAC1 and BRAC2 genes. These are more usually associated with breast, ovarian and prostate cancer, and are tumours for which, in contrast to those of the pancreas, personalised treatments do exist. Thus the significance of the study: for the first time, we have succeeded in demonstrating that we can conduct a personalised study for this cancer. We have opened the door for a subgroup of patients to have another therapeutic option, in addition to chemotherapy.


    • Teresa Macarulla
      Principal Investigator of the Gastrointestinal and Endocrine Tumours Group of Vall d’Hebron Institut d’Oncologia (VHIO), Barcelona