Pancreatic Cancer Associated With High Mortality Rate
Pancreatic cancer is the 11th-most common cancer and fourth-leading cause of cancer death, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, 95% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die in less than five years, and some die in less than a year.
Risk factors for the disease include a family history of the disease, smoking, being over 60 years old, having diabetes or chronic pancreatitis, or being a man or black. The disease has a high mortality rate because its symptoms often occur after the disease has advanced.
Tumors cannot be felt during physical exams because of the positioning of the pancreas, and they are resistant to chemotherapy and radiation.
Researchers "struggling to understand the disease" are searching for genetic mutations and biomarkers that "start cells down the path to cancer," along with studying the tumors themselves, according to the Times.
Financing for pancreatic cancer research has "lagged behind that for other cancers, and researchers say it is partly because there are not enough survivors to march on Washington," the Times reports. (Grady , New York Times, 8/7).
In related news, the Times on Tuesday examined how the family of former President Jimmy Carter has been "devastated" by pancreatic cancer. Carter's father, two sisters and brother died of pancreatic cancer, and his mother also was diagnosed with the disease. Carter said he might have dodged the disease because he has never smoked, which studies have shown to double or triple the risk of pancreatic cancer (Grady , New York Times, 8/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.