CBS “Sunday Morning” aired a special titled, “Beyond Cancer,” featuring the latest news on research, diagnosis and treatments, plus stories of cancer survivors. The show detailed the rapid progress being made in many cancers and the journey still ahead for others, like pancreatic cancer.

Clinical trials were the cornerstone of the special and woven into many of the compelling stories.

We heard from Edie, who at six months old, was diagnosed with cancer. Today she’s 8 and cancer free, thanks to an experimental drug. Even at her young age, she understands the value of modern medicine. “I am very lucky they made that medicine, because if they didn’t, I’d be in heaven,” she said.

We also met Zoe, an 8-year-old canine who lost a leg to bone cancer. Zoe’s participating in a clinical trial for a treatment that is also being studied in humans – a concept known as comparative oncology.

Clinical trials can also play a critical role in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

“Every treatment available today was approved through a clinical trial,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, our president and CEO. “We strongly recommend clinical trials at diagnosis and during every treatment decision.”

We maintain the largest, most up-to-date pancreatic cancer clinical trials database in the United States, Clinical Trial Finder. Start your own search or contact a Patient Central Associate who can run a personalized search for you: (877) 435-8650 or patientcentral@pancan.org.
Early detection and immunotherapy were also discussed, as was the prominence of overtreatment in diseases like breast and prostate cancer.

With pancreatic cancer, there is no early detection test. Surgery remains the primary way to prolong survival, but fewer than 20 percent of patients are eligible.

These shortcomings in the field are why we’re funding research in early detection through our research grants program. The early detection targeted grant will focus on blood biomarkers or imaging approaches in pancreatic cancer, with a specific focus on people with new onset diabetes.

“In order to meet our goal to double survival by 2020, we must diagnose the disease earlier and offer better treatment options,” Fleshman added.

Another interesting point to note from “Beyond Cancer” was how researchers are using scorpion venom to light up tumors on scans so surgeons can see where (and where not) to cut.

Innovative ideas like this one, as well as our Precision Promise clinical trial, are what can propel cancer research forward.

We applaud CBS “Sunday Morning” for airing this important special edition on cancer. With your support, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will continue to invest in the most promising research and clinical initiatives that translate to improved outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients.