By Mel Kauffman
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. In 2020, more than 57,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Although this is considered a rare cancer, it is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. With late stage detection and limited early detection, this cancer survival rate is low. Most patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are over the age of 45; the average age of diagnosis is 71.
Here are some startling U.S. statistics:
In the last few years, pancreatic cancer has gained more public awareness due public figures being diagnosed. In 2019, Alex Trebek was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and has undergone experimental immunotherapy treatment. In February 2021, Trebeck will reach his two-year milestone. In December 2019, Democratic Representative John Lewis announced his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis; Lewis died in July 2020. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lost her battle with metastatic pancreatic cancer on September 18, 2020; she was first diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer in 2009.
Pancreatic cancer remains one of the hardest to treat. New treatment options are being explored—for example, RenovoCath is currently being tested in phase III clinical trial. This method uses a sleek catheter that is inserted into the pancreas to deliver a high dose of chemotherapy directly into the tumor. Dr. Ripal Ghandhi, an interventional oncologist at the Miami Cancer Institute, is conducting this trial at the Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute. Researchers are optimistic this treatment method will prove effective and have limited side effects for patients. The phase III interim analysis will be conducted in June 2022 and will continue to enroll patients in the trial. Radiation therapy is being explored as a treatment option for pancreatic cancer.
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