According to the Canadian Cancer Society (CRS), 5,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. Approximately 2,400 men will die from it in 2017. Ninety-three percent of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will die within five years; more than half of those diagnosed will die within weeks.
The disease has been called the “silent killer” because of its symptoms, which often mimic other sicknesses, such as the cold or flu. Signs of pancreatic cancer include back pain, nausea, and fatigue that won’t go away notes the Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation (PCCF). Early detection is critical in treating the disease. Unfortunately, there is no standard diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer.
The cause of most pancreatic cancers is unknown. However, the risk of developing the disease increases due to factors such as age, being a smoker, being overweight, having a family history of pancreatic cancer, or having pancreatitis and diabetes. Individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have limited treatment options. Early detection is essential; however, most patients are diagnosed with Stage 4 or later.
Death rates are dropping for many other cancers in Canada, but the number of those dying from pancreatic cancer is increasing. It’s expected to be the second most deadly cancer in Canada by 2020 (after lung cancer), yet only 2 percent of research funding is spent on the disease.
On Nov. 16, during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day, PCCF and CRS announced the launch of a joint research initiative to fight pancreatic cancer.
“We needed to stop people in their tracks, help them understand how devastating a pancreatic cancer diagnosis is and compel them to act,” said Michelle Capobianco, CEO of PCCF. “Advances in screening, treatment, and quality of life have been made in almost every major cancer within the last decade, except pancreatic. We at the PCCF and the CRS are determined to change that with this research partnership – it’s time for Canadians to demand better.”
PCCF launched an ad campaign this month urging Canadians to keep a lookout for signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer and help fund research. The joint initiative will raise $2 million in support of PancOne – the PCCF’s Pancreatic Oncology Network.
Max Fehlmann, CEO of CRS, commented: “Through this research partnership, CRS and PCCF can provide more comprehensive resources to researchers to find ways of improving early detection, pave the way for new drug development and ultimately increase overall pancreatic cancer survival rates.”