The PBS documentary, Cancer: Emperor of All Maladies, has spurred a nationwide conversation about cancer, its origin and history, and excitingly looking forward to the most promising time in cancer research as our nation is poised to make significant advances.
This is indeed true for pancreatic cancer – it’s a hopeful time for all of us at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network as we work toward our goal to double pancreatic cancer survival by 2020.
We are in a position to make advances in this fight because the scientific landscape and resources for research has improved substantially over the past 16 years since the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was founded. When the organization first started you could count on two hands the number of scientists studying this disease. To date, we have funded over $23M in research grants to outstanding scientists at institutions across the United States. While federal funding still remains a challenge, it has improved. In 1999, the National Cancer Institute allocated $17 million to pancreatic cancer research and the most recent data from 2013 indicates over $101 million was dedicated to the disease.
We now know more about the basic biology of pancreatic cancer and the field is honing in on high priority research areas including: early detection, immunotherapy, the link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer, and targeted therapies. The biological knowledge gained from laboratory research is now poised to be translated into improved clinical options. Further, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network recently launched its own personalized medicine service initiative called Know Your Tumor where results of molecular profiling tests provide targeted treatment options, including relevant clinical trials, that could assist the treating oncologist in more precise and personalized treatment planning. There are several other ground-breaking initiatives that the organization will be announcing this year to help us achieve our 2020 goal and improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients.
We are proud to bring together the research community – scientists, government, and industry – to share information and resources and to form collaborations. Together, we will ensure progress is made to improve survival for pancreatic cancer patients. Learn how you can Wage Hope with us.
Lynn M. Matrisian, PhD, MBA, is Vice President of Scientific & Medical Affairs for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network