Advances in screening and treatment have significantly lowered the mortality rates of many cancers, but one type of cancer that remains markedly deadly is pancreatic cancer.
As a point of comparison, in 1975 breast cancer patients had a 75.2 percent survival rate after five years. By 2009, breast cancer patients in the U.S. had a 91.3 percent survival rate.
In 1975, pancreatic cancer patients had a 3 percent survival rate after five years and in 2009, they had an 8.5 percent survival rate. This low chance of survival makes pancreatic cancer the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. It’s expected to become the second cause of cancer-related death around 2020.
However, there is hope. The five-year survival has increased for the third consecutive year.
Why is pancreatic cancer so deadly?
Of the estimated 53,670 Americans who will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, many will be advanced-stage because there are no early detection methods. And with limited effective treatment options, most will not survive.
The location of the pancreas –deep within the middle of the abdomen–also hinders early detection. When the cancer spreads, it doesn’t have to go far to reach many crucial systems.
And in many cases, when patients experience symptoms – such as abdominal or back pain, weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), loss of appetite, or even diabetes – the cancer has already spread.
Because survival rates depend upon the stage at which cancer is diagnosed and later stages are associated with lower survival rates, the clandestine nature of pancreatic cancer makes it more deadly.
Here’s what you can do
The challenges are assured, but so is the ingenuity of medical researchers. Currently, dozens of clinical trials are underway to explore different drugs and therapies that can help patients survive pancreatic cancer.
By helping to fund this research, you can equip medical experts with the resources they need to overcome the difficulties presented by pancreatic cancer and achieve better survival rates for those diagnosed.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) is the only organization that addresses pancreatic cancer through research, clinical initiatives, patient services and advocacy. PanCAN is determined to improve patient outcomes today and to double survival by 2020. By participating in a PurpleStride event, you can help end pancreatic cancer.
More than 3,600 people are expected to turn out on Saturday, June 10 at Freedom Plaza for PurpleStride Washington, D.C. 2017. The 5K run/walk welcomes people of all ages and includes activities for kids, plus music, refreshments and a chance to mix and mingle with other people who share a common goal – to give pancreatic cancer patients and their families a brighter future.
Wage Hope at PurpleStride. The walk to end pancreatic cancer.
Sign up for 15 percent off PurpleStride Washington, D.C. registration when you use discount code WJLA15.