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Pancreatic cancer remission rates remain low

(KWWL) – It’s a sad fact that mortality rates for pancreatic cancer remains incredibly high as the survival rate remains in the single digits in terms of percentages.

A 2013 journal “Pancreatic Cancer: why is it so hard to treat?” by Paul Oberstein and Kenneth Olive reads that only six percent of those diagnosed are expected to live for more than five years following their diagnosis.

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat because of where the pancreas is located and how the disease presents itself. The CEO of the Lustgarten Foundation, an organization focused on the research and treatment of pancreatic cancer, said oftentimes there are few to no signs during the early stages of the cancer. What signs to present can often be mistaken and blamed on other issues.

The Cedar Falls chair for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network said this difficulty in detecting the form of cancer is what took her mother.

“Her blood sugar started sky-rocketing. We were told ‘well she’s not exercising, it’s going to happen.’ A couple months later, she stopped eating. That was a classic symptom of pancreatic cancer. She was diagnosed within that week and she was gone in 13 days,” said Amy Jardon.

She said pancreatic cancer often spreads quickly, making it difficult to treat. Surgery is only an option when the cancer is in its early stages, but it is often caught at stage 3 or stage 4.

Karri Kaplan, president and CEO of the Lustgarten Foundation, said that there is a lack of routine screenings for pancreatic cancer like there are for other forms.

“Because of things like colonoscopy, mammogram, and PSA test, those cancers that were the leading causes of cancer deaths have gone down tremendously. That’s what we need for pancreatic cancer,” said Kaplan.

She said the Lustgarten Foundation is funding research to develop these kinds of screenings. She also said there are new drugs in use that are showing promising signs in other cancers, which may show similar results in pancreatic cancer.

She said while many other forms of cancer have falling mortality rates, it isn’t the case for pancreatic cancer.

The Lustgarten Foundation estimates pancreatic cancer to be the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States by 2030.

More information on the Lustgarten Foundation can be found here.

Information on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network can be found here.

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Collin Dorsey

Noon & 5 p.m. Anchor

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