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Pancreatic Cancer

What is Pancreatic Cancer?


It is estimated that in 2007, over 37,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and that over 33,000 people will die from the disease.

Pancreatic cancer has a 98% mortality rate--the highest of any cancer. Seventy-five percent of people diagnosed with the disease will die within three to six months of diagnosis. Only 5%
survive longer than five years. Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

There are no sensitive early detection methods, and effective treatments are extremely limited. Unfortunately, there has been little change in overall pancreatic cancer mortality rates over the
past three decades.

About Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer grows insidiously and initially does not cause symptoms. If the tumor blocks the common bile duct so that bile cannot pass into the intestines, the skin and whites of the eyes
may become yellow and the urine may become dark. This condition is called jaundice. Pain often develops in the upper abdomen and sometimes spreads to the back. Cancer of the pancreas can
also cause nausea, loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, and weakness.

If detected very early, pancreatic cancer can be cured by surgical resection. Unfortunately, early detection is more the exception than the rule. By the time the tumor is discovered, it is usually too
far advanced to be cured by surgery. In instances in which surgery offers the possibility of a cure, a Whipple operation is usually performed in which a large part of the pancreas, the duodenum,
and a portion of the bile duct are removed.


Almost all research being done in the United States falls under the auspices of The National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We desperately
need novel approaches and committed researchers to make progress against pancreatic cancer. Based on the increased survival rate for other deadly cancers (lung, colorectal and breast) we
believe that increased investment in pancreatic cancer research can be expected to yield dramatic progress.
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