Thanks to private funding, 100% of every dollar donated to The Lustgarten Foundation goes directly to pancreatic cancer research.

Immunotherapy: A Promising New Approach to Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Immunotherapy, which involves using a person’s own immune system to fight and destroy cancer cells, is considered by many leading researchers to represent the future of cancer treatment. While immunotherapy has been successful in treating other diseases, only recently have we made breakthroughs in applying immunotherapy to pancreatic cancer treatment.

Last spring, in an unprecedented, fast-tracked review, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) as the first immunotherapy treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer patients whose tumors have a unique genetic mutation called mismatch repair deficiency. This deficiency alters their capacity to repair DNA, which is a factor in cancer development. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 50 advanced pancreatic cancer patients have tumors that are mismatch repair deficient, making them candidates for this type of therapy. Keytruda® is the first cancer drug based on a genetic characteristic, rather than tumor site, to be approved by the FDA for use in pancreatic cancer patients. The Lustgarten Foundation played a critical role in bringing this new treatment to patients by funding the researchat the John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, encouraging patients to get tested, and funding patients’ testing to determine if their tumors are mismatch repair deficient.

The Lustgarten Foundation encourages pancreatic cancer patients to get tested to determine if their tumors are mismatch repair deficient. If the test is positive, patients should speak with their doctors to determine if treatment with Keytruda® is right for them.

Learn more about Keytruda’s® use in advanced pancreatic cancer patients whose tumors are mismatch repair deficient.



“Keytruda®  is the first example of ‘personalized immunotherapy.’ A specific immune treatment can now be recommended for patients based exclusively on the genetic characteristics of the tumor. If the tumor shows a repair defect, then it is very likely that it will respond to this drug, regardless of how advanced the cancer is at the time of treatment. This is a potential life-saving therapy for these patients.”– Dr. Bert Vogelstein

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