Pancreatic cancer (PC) is one of the deadliest cancers worldwide. Surgical resection remains the only curative therapeutic treatment for this disease, although only the minority of patients can be resected due to late diagnosis. Systemic gemcitabine-based chemotherapy plus nab-paclitaxel are used as the gold-standard therapy for patients with advanced PC; although this treatment is associated with a better overall survival compared to the old treatment, many side effects and poor results are still present. Therefore, new alternative therapies have been considered for treatment of advanced PC. Several preclinical studies have demonstrated that curcumin, a naturally occurring polyphenolic compound, has anticancer effects against different types of cancer, including PC, by modulating many molecular targets. Regarding PC, in vitro studies have shown potent cytotoxic effects of curcumin on different PC cell lines including MiaPaCa-2, Panc-1, AsPC-1, and BxPC-3. In addition, in vivo studies on PC models have shown that the anti-proliferative effects of curcumin are caused by the inhibition of oxidative stress and angiogenesis and are due to the induction of apoptosis. On the basis of these results, several researchers tested the anticancer effects of curcumin in clinical trials, trying to overcome the poor bioavailability of this agent by developing new bioavailable forms of curcumin. In this article, we review the results of pre-clinical and clinical studies on the effects of curcumin in the treatment of PC.
Keywords: curcumin; natural compound; pancreatic cancer; therapy.