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Pancreatic Cancer Gets New Hope

RM Pancreatitis


Robert S. Glazier was just your average man living your average life, that is until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When that happened, Glazier expected to live but only a few short months, however, four years and Glazier is well on his way to five-years.

“Pancreatic cancer is still a terrible disease, but there’s more hope now than there ever has been,” says Glazier.

Why does he say that? Simple, Glazier is traveling from his home in Miami to Washington, D.C. to participate in National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day on June 20, and much like everyone else at the event, optimism is in the air.

“There is a lot of excitement in the advances that have been made in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, so now is not the time to stop the momentum,” says Julie Fleshman, president, and CEO of PanCAN, a nonprofit organization.

In case you didn’t know, pancreatic cancer occurs when malignant cancerous cells form in the tissues of the pancreas, which is the gland located behind the stomach and in front of the spine.

About 53,670 Americans will be diagnosed this year with the disease and 43,090 will die from it, says PanCAN, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

“Pancreatic cancer the third biggest cancer killer in the U.S. after lung and colon cancer,” Fleshman says.

“It’s also the only one of the three in which five-year survival time is measured only in single digits. Not only that, but pancreatic cancer will become the 2nd highest cancer killer in the U.S. by 2020.” This is the result of progress being made in treating other types of cancer and also due to the aging population, Fleshman says.

Sadly at present, most people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after age 45, with two-thirds at least 65 years old when the disease is diagnosed.

But progress is being made, Fleshman says.

“In 2011, we set a goal to double survival by 2020. At that time, the five-year survival rate was 6 percent and it’s now 9 percent, so we’ve gained 3 points over the past three years, and we’re on track for our goal,” says Fleshman, whose father died 19 years ago from pancreatic cancer.

“I think that’s a sign of the momentum.”

The rapid development of new cancer drugs and progress in precision medicine is helping turn things around, she adds.