Research nugget #2: Pancreatic cancer

The following nugget is a prognoses for pancreatic cancer, taken from the online publication “Pancreatic cancer.”

“For all stages combined, the 1-year relative survival rate is 25%, and the 5-year survival is estimated as less than 5% to 6%.
For local disease, the 5-year survival is approximately 20%.
For locally advanced and for metastatic disease, which collectively represent over 80% to 85-90% of individuals, the median survival is about 10 and 6 months, respectively. Without active treatment, metastatic pancreatic cancer has a median survival of 3–5 months; complete remission is very rare.”

As is is clear from the nugget, pancreatic cancer strikes fast and is a deadly disease. It cause about 330,000 deaths worldwide in 2012 and it is the seventh most common cause of deaths due to cancer (fourth in the US). 43,000 people in the US were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 37,000 died from it. Pancreatic cancer has one of the highest fatality rates of all cancers. It accounts for only 2.5% of new cases but is responsible for 6% of cancer deaths each year. The disease occurs more often in the developed world, where about 68% of new cases occur. `it is almost never detected in its early stages. Pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis, even when diagnosed early. It usually spreads rapidly, which is a main reason of it’s a low survival rates. Signs and symptoms may not appear until pancreatic cancer is in the metastasis stage and is surgically irremovable.

In my Research nugget #1, I have discussed ovarian cancer, which is also a very effective killer. Pancreatic and ovarian cancers have lots in common.

Both ovarian and pancreatic cancers are hard to detect. Signs and symptoms are frequently absent in early stages and when they exist they may be subtle. Therefore, these cancers is often misdiagnosed until they are in advanced stages. Most common symptoms include: abdominal or pelvic pain, heartburn, loss of appetite or nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, involuntary weight loss, back pain and tiredness.

For the pancreatic cancer the prognosis was discussed in the nugget.
The five-year survival rate for all stages of ovarian cancer is 47%. For cases where a diagnosis is made early in the disease, when the cancer is still confined to the primary site, the five-year survival rate is 92.7%.

Both cancers are linked to mutations in BRCA2 gene whose mutations also increases risk of breast cancer.

Occurrences of both cancers are effectively through specialized blood tests and CT scans. Until recently these tests were very expensive and therefore rarely used. See here for a recent breakthrough (mentioned also in my previous posts).

One thought on “Research nugget #2: Pancreatic cancer”

  1. Occurrences of both cancers are effectively through specialized blood tests and CT scans. Until recently these tests were very expensive and therefore rarely used.

    Blood tests and CT scans seem to be “old” ways of detection that obviously do not work. How do they check for biomarkers currently? There is a current test for the BRCA2 gene — right? What if a patient carries that gene — how do they recommend he/she proceed? Does carrying the gene “diagnose” a cancer — it “predicts” a liklihood,right — but doesn’t diagnose.

    As you see I’m trying to help you forge a focus and PROBLEM to study, instead of just reporting on symptoms and prognosis, which can be Googled and are not a question to explore. Your #2 Research Nugget has information on new diagnoses possibilities that may involve newest technology, and so I wonder if you can’t raise a question about diagnosis. Why is diagnosis so difficult? What promises do new technologies hold?

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