With national and international organizations recognizing November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and November 13 as World Pancreatic Cancer Day, there will be countless opportunities to show support and help raise awareness of this disease. Presented here are a few statistics about this deadly form of cancer.
Although pancreatic cancer represents only 3.1%1 of all new cancer cases in the United States, it is now the third leading cause of cancer-related death.2 An estimated 41,780 Americans will die of pancreatic cancer in 2016, and there will be an estimated 53,070 new cases of the disease.1
Pancreatic cancer progresses rapidly (in 1.3 years on average) from stage I to stage IV. Symptoms such as back or abdominal pain and nausea are subtle, and no tests are available for early detection. Only approximately 9% of patients are diagnosed at stage I, when the cancer is still localized within the pancreas. More than 50% of patients are not diagnosed until the disease has metastasized.2
Survival rates for patients with pancreatic cancer are among the lowest reported. Although the 5-year relative survival rate for neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) is 53%, NETs represent only 5% of pancreatic cancers. Exocrine tumors account for 95%, and the 5-year relative survival rate for exocrine tumors is 5%. Combined statistics for all cancer stages show the 1-year relative survival rate to be 29%; the 5-year rate is 7%. Even in patients who are diagnosed with stage I disease, the 5-year survival rate is only 27%. Among the 53% of patients with a distant-stage diagnosis, the 1-year survival rate is 15% and the 5-year survival rate is 2%.3
Research funding for pancreatic cancer is relatively limited. For fiscal year 2013, the budget of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) was $4.79 billion. Research funding for various types of cancer included breast, $559,172,103; lung, $285,910,536; pancreatic, $101,936,107; and ovarian, $100,558,561.4 The NCI budget for fiscal year 2016 is $5.21 billion, an increase of $260.5 million from fiscal year 2015.5
Recently, the NCI awarded a $10.4-million, 5-year grant to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. These funds will support research at the Siteman Cancer Center to develop new treatments for the deadliest form of the disease—pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Partner institutions are the University of Rochester, NY; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.6
1. SEER stat fact sheets: pancreas cancer. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/pancreas.html. Accessed August 24, 2016.
2. Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. www.pancan.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2016-GAA-PC-Facts.pdf. Accessed August 24, 2016.
3. Cancer facts & figures 2016. www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/cancerfactsfigures2016. Accessed August 24, 2016.
4. FY 2013 research funding by cancer type. http://fundedresearch.cancer.gov/nciportfolio/search/funded?type=site&fy=PUB2013. Accessed August 24, 2016.
5. NCI budget and appropriations. www.cancer.gov/about-nci/budget. Updated April 19, 2016. Accessed August 24, 2016.
6. Goodwin J. Washington University in St. Louis. $10.4 million awarded for pancreatic cancer research. https://source.wustl.edu/2016/08/10-4-million-awarded-pancreatic-cancer-research/. August 15, 2016. Accessed August 24, 2016.